How to pitch a play to a theatre
Published on 17th May 2018
New Perspectives recently ran a new initiative inviting theatre artists from across the Midlands to pitch a new idea for rural touring.
After listening to a wide range of pitches for shows that incorporated everything from bakery with a political edge to modern dance, the artistic team reflect on a few tips for emerging artists and companies about how to deliver a pitch that stands out.
1. Think deep.
Many of us get excited by the external features of an idea that comes to us, be that a subject matter or a form you want to play with. Yet it is important to spend time digging deep into that initial idea to really work out what is driving it. It may be something personal, social or political, but it doesn’t need to be earth shattering. Just an honest central thought that makes you believe that this work should be made at this time. This will give the project its ultimate purpose and make it far clearer and more compelling when you attempt to share it with others.
2. Be thorough.
Once you settle on your project or idea make sure you try and look at it from every angle before presenting it. Look at its strengths and its weaknesses. Anticipate some of the pitfalls and what you might do about them. You don’t need to have answers for everything but it makes a difference when it is clear that the pitcher has considered the idea from many different points of view. Any doubts raised in your mind will likely be raised by the person you are pitching to, so try to develop as clear a picture as possible.
3. Be practical.
It is not enough to throw an idea on the table and leave others to work out how to do it. In addition to sharing your idea, think practically about how it might be realised and what opportunities it presents. What kind of creative team and support will it need? When might be a good time of year to do it? Who is the audience for it? What are the educational opportunities it offers? You may not know exact answers to these things but it is helpful to have thought about them, so that it’s clear that you are a doer as well as a dreamer.
"Don’t see yourself as an unworthy hopeful, looking for a hand out."
4. Do your research.
No one can or should try to second guess a programmer, but you need to have a good sense of what kind of work the company does and is doing. Don’t just look at a mission statement on a website. Look at the kinds of work they have made and artists they have engaged with. This does not mean you should tailor your idea to what you think they want but rather that you understand the context of what you are proposing and how it might complement their existing programme.
5. Be confident.
Artists and their ideas are the bread and butter of all arts organisations. Without you, they simply cannot survive. So don’t see yourself as an unworthy hopeful, looking for a hand out. They may be offering you space to pitch but you are giving them your time, imagination and the potential of an exciting project. This doesn’t mean you should ever appear arrogant or entitled. Just be aware that your place with them is absolutely justified and if anyone makes you feel otherwise you probably shouldn’t be working with them.
Finally: the odds are always going to be against you in a pitching scenario so try not to be crushed or lose too much confidence if you don’t get through. Instead, see them as a useful opportunity to really refine your bank of ideas before taking them on to someone else.
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