Written by DDG Committee
The producer’s job is a fluid one – we have had directors prefer to micro-manage productions so that the producer has had very little to do; we have also had producers wear all kinds of hats simultaneously; we have even had a producer step into an on stage role at the last minute because no one else could be found to fill in. If you approach the job as an essential member of a team, and realize that you are often the one who makes sure communication between everyone stays open, it can be a very rewarding job.
Chairperson – Dubai Drama Group – November 2002
The Producer works hand in hand with the Director to make sure that a good play goes on the stage for the public and that the cast & crew have fun putting it there. If the director is in charge of making sure the artistic end of things goes smoothly, the producer is responsible for all the technical bits and pieces that go into putting on a play.
Technically, the director is responsible for choosing and casting the play, running rehearsals, and the artistic “vision” of the play – the look and feel of the set, costumes, program, et al. The producer’s job is to make sure it all happens, and to make sure the director can get on with the job of directing the actors with as little grief as possible.
Ideally, the producer is the liaison with the committee and the DCC, keeps the records and receipts, keeps tabs on the crew and fills in whatever gaps need filling, works with all the senior crew members to keep everyone on schedule, and smiles through it all. Some directors keep tight control on the production; some allocate quite a bit to their producer The Director/Producer relationship is a balance the two of you should discuss and agree upon up front. And anyone deciding to produce should also read the rest of this manual – you may have to act in many capacities.
The director chooses a play and should check out whether or not it has been released for amateur production before submitting it. He or she will have made copies of the script for the DDG committee and submitted it.
The director will also have submitted a budget, on which he or she may need your help. Normally, the producer collects the money from the Treasurer and takes care of paying the expenses and keeping track of the receipts, so although you do not decide how the money gets spent, you are involved in channeling it.
The director will also have worked with the Committee liaison with the DCC on sorting out audition nights (generally 2) and rehearsal nights (generally 3 per week for 6 weeks) and the run dates. He/she may ask you to type up and distribute the schedule.
Since you are heavily involved in the production, you should read the script. Likewise, you should attend the occasional rehearsal (when and how many is up to you and your director).
In an ideal world, the crew is recruited and committed before the play is even cast. DDG productions rarely happen in an ideal world.
You are ultimately responsible for getting the crew in order. With luck, the director has already contacted people who have agreed to take on the senior jobs, and they can be responsible for organizing their support crew. If not, it’s your job to either find them or do the job yourself. In many ways, this is the biggest headache for a producer, since people are notoriously unreliable. Get the crew in place as soon as possible, and call a production meeting right after auditions. You will then see who has volunteered and where you have holes in the crew you need to fill. The sooner you have responsible crew members in place, the easier your job will be.
The crew includes:
Stage Manager & backstage crew
Lighting designer (& crew)
Sound designer (& crew)
Set designer, Gaffer, and crew (set crew is ideally the cast + volunteers)
Props & Set decoration
Make-up and Hair (if needed)
Program designer/creator, who can also typeset the program
Publicity (and photographer)
Rehearsal prompt (usually the Stage Manager)
Front of House Manager & ushers
Pantomimes will have additional needs, such as choreographers and musical directors, and usually a rehearsal piano and a band. However, the director will have those pieces in place and will work directly with those people, as it’s all part of the ‘artistic’ piece. A director will generally not be permitted to audition a panto unless the choreographer and musical director are already on board.
Once the play has been accepted, the producer makes a sufficient number of copies of the audition pieces chosen by the director. Producers usually attend auditions, if only to lend moral support, attend to paperwork, and recruit crew.
Sign up list: You should make a sign up list that shows name, phone, email address, and parts to be auditioned for. There should also be a separate sheet for those volunteering to crew. After the audition, the sign up sheet gets turned over to the director, who will notify all those who auditioned whether or not they got a part. The CREW volunteers you will make note of, and pass the names, numbers and emails on to the relevant person (i.e., backstage volunteers go to the Stage Manager; set painting volunteers go to the Gaffer, etc.) before your first production meeting.
Paperwork: Many directors request auditioners to bring their photocopies and pictures with them to auditions; you’ll collect these for permissions.
You will also bring along the DDG Membership form for those who wish to become members (all cast and senior crew members over the age of 16 MUST belong to the DDG). You will distribute these forms to those who wish to have them, and collect their membership fees, which you then pass on (with the form) to the Treasurer (who passes on the form to the Secretary to update the database).
As soon as you can, schedule a production meeting with the director and members of your senior crew. This is where you work out a schedule of deadlines that must be met, apportion tasks, find out who anticipates problems either will getting help or needing special equipment, etc. The sooner you’ve got a plan in place that everyone knows about, the easier your life is going to be. How often you call subsequent production meetings is up to you and your people. Pantos tend to have weekly meetings; regular plays have two or three until the final week.
We must have the Ministry of Culture’s permission to put on plays. The DCC usually handles the Ministry applications; however, the poducer is responsible for providing getting to her, ASAP:
- a photocopy of the passport photo page of every person who will be on stage.
- 3 identical passport photos of same
- list of names of the cast members so she can check against it.
We cannot publicize a show or print tickets until permissions have been granted by the Ministry. And the sooner permissions are done, the sooner you can get bums on seats.
Cast members should be instructed to bring their paperwork with them to the first rehearsal (which is usually an all-cast read through). If they do not, it is the producers’ job to hound them. Ideally, the permission info goes to Sally in the first week of rehearsals, along with a basic ticket design (liaise with your Program Designer for that). The process of getting permission and printing tickets can take two weeks, so the sooner the better.
Royalties must be paid for all productions. When you have the dates and house capacity figures (depends on whether the play is in the Terrace Room or the Sports Hall), you must apply to the copyright holder for permission to perform. Currently it is done via fax and credit card, and the Treasurer will reimburse you for royalties immediately. Either forward him your emailed receipt from the copyright holder or show your credit card bill. DDG does not currently have a credit card.
Make sure the Publicity Manager has all of the info needed and that is it accurate: dates, ticket prices, contact numbers, pertinent names, etc.
Magazines: Magazine publicity is important, and the deadlines tend to be the 8-10th of the previous month, so publicity has to start early. Organize your Publicity Manager and photographer to get down to rehearsals in the early days. The director may wish to do the write ups of the play, or may leave it to you or the Publicity Manager.
This needs to be handled whether permissions have come from the Ministry or not, because of the long lead time. If for any reason the Ministry refuses us, the article can be pulled. (Though this has never happened to us).
Newspapers: As soon as permissions are granted, tell your Publicity Manager they can go ahead with the newspapers. Pictures in costume usually go down well with the papers, so you may need to call a photo shoot with costumes, if possible. (Generally half and hour early start on a rehearsal night is sufficient).
Flyers: If you are having flyers, your Program Designer will design them. Make sure he/she has accurate info, and then get the master (preferably on disk) from him/her and arrange to have them printed and distributed. Give some to the DCC, and to all cast/crew members to put up in their workplaces. Send an electronic copy to the Secretary, who will further distribute them among members and patrons who have volunteered to display them. If you are posting flyers in public areas, discuss it with your committee liaison (to make sure it’s still legal) before you do it.
A representative at the DCC usually makes up small table fliers for the DCC bars from our flyers, but they may need a reminder.
Radio: Your Publicity Manager will arrange radio spots if possible. Make sure he/she has contact numbers for those in the cast/crew who can and want to do the radio interviews (usually the director, though sometimes you and/or actors, depending on peoples’ schedules).
Program Ads: DDG programs have ads in them. Some are for one production; some are for the entire season. The Committee will know which ads are required for the program – ask for them. They will also supply you with the artwork (A5 size) for these ads, which you should pass along to the program designer.
If your production also is using ‘one off ’ ads (that is, as thanks for services rendered or as an ad for your production only), you will need to get the artwork from them as soon as possible. Good programs take some time to design, set and produce, and the sooner your designer has all the required art work, the sooner he or she knows how much space there is left for the rest of the program. Nowadays it is usual to get ads on disk. If it is meant to be a black and white ad, request a black and white ad so that they are assured of the colour balance they want when it is printed. If the ad is color and they wish to give you a print ad instead, ask the advertiser to give you 4-color separation films, ready for printing. (DDG can’t make color separations from printed ads – it’s too expensive).
Whatever kind of ads you have, make sure the program designer gets them as soon as possible.
You need to get the seating plan from the DCC as soon as you can and pass it on to the FOH Manager (especially important for Pantos, which has reserved seating).
Tickets & Vouchers: Sally will tell you when the tickets have come from the printers. She will have both ‘public’ and ‘member’ tickets for you. Each ticket that is taken out of the book is taxed, so be sure that you have cash in hand before removing tickets from the book!
Patrons get a patron voucher in lieu of a ticket. These need to be produced and given to FOH and to Amor or Olive at the DCC. About the size of a business card and printed on card stock is usual. (The Secretary has samples).
Vouchers should also be printed for Complimentary tickets. You or FOH will make out the names on them, and Annie holds them for pick up at the desk.
Members/Patrons: Let the Secretary know when tickets are available for members/patrons and he/she will send out the info to them. (Patrons get one free ticket to each show; members of the DCC and DDG pay 50dhs adult, 25 Dhs kids. Groups over 10 are entitled to a special discount, as are school groups to everything but the Panto).
Cast/Crew: Arrange a night when your FOH Manager comes to rehearsals to sell tickets to the cast and crew (tell them in advance so they are prepared).
Public: Tickets for the public are always available at the Country Club (60 Dhs / 30 Dhs). Should you want to have them distributed elsewhere (such as Magrudy’s), you can make those arrangements. (However, we have found that the ticket sales this generates is not worth the trouble).
The producer’s role during rehearsals is one of support. Most directors will want their producers to pop round now and again, and you should know how things are going with a production even if only so you don’t get blind-sided by a horrendous last minute problem. Since one of the producer’s functions is to make sure all the ‘pieces’ work together and it all runs smoothly, you may find yourself filling in gaps with little notice. If you’re around, you won’t be taken quite so much by surprise.
Some directors rely on their producers for an ‘extra eye’, especially if the producer has also directed in the past. Sometimes a second opinion is very useful, and many directors find it easier to get a second opinion from an observer rather than a participant on the stage. Again, your involvement in the artistic side of things is between you and your director.
Sometime during the rehearsals, usually about half way through, the Committee will want an update on the production. This may fall to you, or the director may want to handle it him/herself.
Generally, the Committee wants to know how things are going, whether any problems have come up, whether they need to supply anything (lighting cables, extra bulbs, sound equipment, etc.). You will be asked how the budget is doing, publicity, ticket sales and so on – a general progress report. Anything that may have been mentioned to the committee as a concern (eg, inappropriate language in the script that has not been ‘cleaned up’) by the country club or other observer will come up for discussion at this time. Any questions you or the director may still have or support you may need should be addressed here as well. \
Approaching the Run and The Run of the Show
As you near the run, the producer’s main job is to follow up and make sure everyone is on schedule; that tickets are being distributed and sold, that all of the backstage crew heads have their support people in place, and so on.
Your program designer may or may not take the program from inception to production. It is possible that you will be handed a disk with the finished, typeset program on it and will need to take over production from there. Talk to the DDG Treasurer about printers we have used in the past; just make sure you leave plenty of time for it to get done. Printers have been known to miss deadlines, and you really want your programs ready on time. A week usually suffices, but the more time you can give them, the more time you have to fix any problems that may come up (just don’t let the printer know you have plenty of time, or they will take it!).
Check with the Committee to see who is best to give you advice on numbers of programs. If the program has been sponsored ( paid for) you will want to print enough to give to every audience member; if you are selling programs, you will order considerably fewer programs.
If you have a flyer to insert in the program (such as a membership/patronage form or mailing list sign up sheet), have them ready to turn over to FOH with the programs.
Video/Still photos for the run
It is customary to video one performance of each production, and to make this video available to the cast members for a fee (usually 30 Dhs, which covers the copying). Some videos are straightforward and just a camera set up in the back for a still shoot; others are two or more cameras, footage from which is edited into a final video. However you decide to do it, arrangements need to be made for this. Don’t schedule the video for the last night in case something goes wrong.
Still photos are valuable for cast/crew members and for the DDG archives and web page. If they are done with a digital camera, please make sure to forward some choice photos to the Secretary and the Webmistress . If they are conventional film photos, please arrange to have some scanned in for use on the web page.
Feeding the cast and the After-show party
During the dress rehearsal and the run of the show, we usually feed the cast and crew something light during the intermission. Arrangements should be made with the Country Club for sandwiches and chips, or soup, or whatever. Soft drinks and water should also be available during the interval (though most producers bring a cooler and do this themselves, as it’s considerably cheaper than paying DCC prices).
The exception is the final night of the run. We don’t feed the players during the intermission since they will be fed at the party. Drinks still need to be there, though.
During the run, make a check list of those who are coming to the cast/crew party and their guests. The director’s budget pays for the party for cast and crew; guests are charged, and you should collect the money for the guests. (Depending on menu etc, it’s generally 25-30 Dhs per guest). Anyone who books a guest is expected to pay for that guest whether the guest shows or not, and monies need to be collected no later than the day before the party so that you can get the final head count to the Chef.
The producer organizes the party – place, menu, music, etc. The DCC is the usual place, but not your only option. It is up to you, the director, and your budget.
Thomas More Cup: The Thomas More Cup is a floating award given by the director of each production, and kept by the recipient until the next time it is awarded. Collect it from the current holder in time for the party; the Committee will know who has it.
Set strike happens immediately after the last show or on the following day (depending on what arrangements you have made with the DCC). The Stage Manager runs the strike, but the director and producer are responsible for seeing to it that all flats, sets, furnishings, props, costumes, light and sound equipment and tools make it back in good order to their proper places in the containers. If anything belonging to the DDG is broken or destroyed in the process, the producer makes note of the item and the problem for the report to the Committee. The wardrobe mistress generally takes charge of cleaning and returning costumes, but the producer & director will still be held accountable for any mess left in the containers.
At the committee meeting after the production closes, the director and/or producer usually debrief the committee on how it went. Problems that were encountered, heads-ups for the next production, and so on. Any reports of damaged property should be given at this time, as should the accounts and receipts ( if they have not already been given to the Treasurer).
This may be done in person, or may be done in writing — it’s really up to you and the committee at the time.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 15 November 2006 )