Pre Production Overview
'Pre-production' is the first stage of development for a theatrical production. This is the stage where producers, writers and directors come together to decide the most important aspects of How they will bring their show together.
It can start in any number of ways. If this is a newly written work that is being shown for the first time then it will usually be instigated by a Producer and Writer. The Writer wanting to get their work show on a stage will need the help of one or several producers to help them get the show off the ground. At this point in the production cycle the writer and producer will meet together and discuss their vision for the work.
The 3 main questions that have to be answered and worked out at this point are…..
Where will it be performed?
This is important as they must locate a venue that can put on the show. Choosing the right theater is important as there are many things to consider: (The size of the theater, technical limitations or needs, the location of the theater, etc.) For example if you wish to put on a show that will require "flying" or pyrotechnic effects it would be better suited to be performed at a larger venue which has access to these things instead of a 99 seat venue which is much more low-key. The size and location is important too as it will determine how many audience members you can seat in the theater per show.
When will it be performed?
This is important as you want to make sure to give yourself enough time to have rehearsals and then to give the show a chance to shine. It is also important to consider yearly events/holidays in the scheduling of you show. It is very common to find Christmas themed shows playing at well Christmas time (mid to late November through the end of December). You should also be aware of any holidays happening during the run or rehearsal period of your show.(ie Father's Day, 4th of July). Finally if you are doing a work that is not new you should make sure of when you are running it so that it does not interfere with other theaters who are running the same show In that area. (ie. You do not want to put up a show of "Hamlet" at the same time that a theater in the same area as you is also producing "Hamlet")
How will we get the money to fund it?
Perhaps the most important question to be asked. To put on any show you will need the help of vast number of people. It is of course possible for the Producers and Directors to take on more that one role, but even with that they will not be able to do everything. There are also things that you will have to spend money on (props, costumes, lights, rentals) that must be paid for. How you will get money to fund your project is one of the most important questions to answer. A savvy producer may be able to find things for free, or work out deals with companies to buy advertising in the program. Hiring the right designers is helpful too as a good designer can stretch a budget or bring some equipment of their own to help with the design.
Once they have an idea of answers to these questions then they will bring on a director. The Director is will help to answer some of these questions and is another person who is usually involved in some of the decision making. It may also happen that the director they bring on is also a producer him/herself and They may do producing work in the pre-production phase of the show before they are directing.
If this is a work that is not new (a classic, revival, etc.) then the process is similar but it is usually between a director and producer. If the writer is still alive and wants to be involved then they may also be part of the initial meeting. It will vary on the circumstances.