Become A Little Fish Honorary Producer Or Designer

Little Fish doesn’t have a lot of performances on our schedule during the month of April. We have closing weekend of Chapter Two on April 4-6, and we have opening weekend of Looking on the April 26-27. If you think that means it’s a quiet time at Little Fish, you’re mistaken. The time in between shows is probably the busiest time of all. So, what exactly goes on during those three weeks?

By the time we get to closing night for our Series A shows, the next pair of shows have already been in rehearsal for three weeks and the sets have been designed. Rehearsals usually start about six weeks before a show opens, although that can vary wildly since rehearsals have to fit around the actors’ schedules.

The actors don’t get paid. (Yes, it’s true, they do it “for love.”) They all have day jobs that we have to schedule around. Rehearsals are held in our upper lobby and on the set of the current show while that show is still running. Props and costumes for the new show are all stored in the upper lobby and office until the new set is complete.

On closing night, the actors all stay late and help strike the old set and clean out the dressing room. The costume designer retrieves any costumes that were rented or borrowed, and our prop inventory guru puts away all the props. The next day, the set designer demos whatever is left of the set, sorts out what gets stored, what gets reused, and what gets trashed, and starts building the new set. Walls get put up, lights get taken down and moved around, things get painted. The entire process of building, painting, adding trim, hanging curtains, etc., takes a couple of weeks.

Once the Series A set is complete, the designer then has to figure out how to incorporate the Series B set, which is sometimes quite a challenge. In the meantime, the Series B show moves into the upper lobby for rehearsals and prop/set/costume storage; we are a busy little theater where the fun never stops.

The rehearsals move to the stage as soon as it’s no longer a hardhat zone, but still without most of the props and costumes. The actors and director won’t see the entire show with lights, sound, costumes and props until tech rehearsals, which happen only a few days before opening night. Light and sound cues and any special effects get adjusted at that time. On the final rehearsal day, the costumes go on, requiring last minute changes that only become obvious once you see the actress in high heels about to climb onto the couch and punch holes in the cushions with her stiletto heels. Oops! When you attend our shows and see the amazing final product, you would never guess how chaotic the final days before opening can be.

Does all this sound intriguing to you? Then I have good news. We now offer the opportunity to be an Honorary Producer or Designer. For a $600 donation (for Honorary Set Designer) or a $400 donation (for Honorary Costume, Props or Sound Designer), you’ll dialogue with a designer and see their selections before the show opens, spend the day as they pull items from our stock or accompany them shopping, and get sneak peeks of the play in production.

You’ll also receive invitations to attend the first reading with the cast and the Cast/Crew Party. Or for a more intense experience and a $2,000 donation, you can be the Honorary Producer of one of our 2013 shows. You’ll get to spend time with the producer and all the designers during the production, do all the things the Honorary Designers get to do, and you’ll also be part of the production team during the Talk Back Sundays, letting audience members in on the inside scoop – from your perspective.

If you’re interested, you can donate on our website (www.littlefishtheatre.org) or call us at (310) 512-6030 for more details. spt

The Play’s The Thing

While the citizens of this country are pondering who will get their vote in the Big Election of 2012, here at Little Fish we’re pondering what plays will win a place on our 2013 schedule.

Just as in politics, the selection process is not an easy one. Will it be the popular choice or the nominee who can change the world (even if no one wants the world changed)? Ultimately, the buck stops at the desk of Lisa Coffi, Producing Artistic Director of Little Fish. She makes the final decisions. And she would like you to know it’s not easy.

It starts with, well, nothing. Lisa has to come up with a list of candidates. Some comedies. Some dramas. It’s always good to have some familiar titles, including a classic piece with instant name recognition. (In 2013, you’ll recognize one whose initials are S.M., and that’s all I’m gonna say.) It’s also good to include some shows that no one has ever heard of to bring some new ideas into the mix.

She has to find plays that are well written, and that she thinks our patrons will enjoy. She doesn’t have professional pollsters to help; she has to try to read the minds of her constituency to know what they will vote for with their theater-going dollars. Are they tired of Southern accents yet? Do they want to see plays with aliens in them? But she also has to pick plays that spark the creativity of our company members so they don’t defect and change their affiliation. And no one wants to hear the same old thing over and over again, so she has to consider if the work as been done recently in the Los Angeles area.

Our political parties have primaries and conventions to give folks a chance to express their opinions. Lisa gets suggestions and comments and a whole lot of opinions from other Little Fish company members. Sometimes the only solution is to get everyone in the same room and fight it out.

Then there’s what you would expect to be the boring part of securing the rights to produce the plays. Let’s just say it’s a bit more complicated than “pay to play.” Some handlers just don’t want their candidate on our slate. We usually need to publish our season before we get the rights to everything on our schedule, and that’s why sometimes there are changes after the season starts (think of them as broken campaign promises “beyond our control”).

If you want to find out which candidates made the cut and won a place in our 2013 season, you’ll need to come to our Annual Season Unveiling and Fundraising Party. This year’s party will be held at Little Fish Theatre on Saturday, November 3 from 5-9 p.m. In the past, we’ve held the party offsite, but by inviting folks to our special little space, we can offer treats like backstage tours.

And, of course, you’ll have a chance to give us your vote of confidence and purchase season tickets for our 2013 season! It’s going to be great – we would never lie to you. And if you’re reading this after November 3, you can just go to our website at littlefishtheatre.org to read about our 2013 season and buy tickets. spt