SOR 009: Doug Powers

Doug Powers

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I’ve been anticipating this episode because I’ve been promising that it’s coming to readers and listeners who are looking for help promoting a show that deals with unpleasant subject matter. Shows that aren’t necessarily easy to watch can be a tough sell, but sometimes that’s the art we most need to create and the art that most needs to be seen. If that’s the position you find yourself in, how do you promote that show? This is the challenge that Doug took on when he directed a very weighty production of William Mastrosimone’s Extremities.

(Full disclosure: I was an actor in this production so I am undoubtedly biased on both the quality of the production and the people involved.)

One of the topics that Doug touches on in this interview is the ManKind Project. This is an organization that seeks to cultivate and support a healthy view of masculinity. There were several organizations that provided financial support for this production, but the ManKind Project went above and beyond. They ran a discussion each of the three weekends of the run after one of the shows. The discussions didn’t really have any structure beyond inviting people to talk about their emotional reactions to the play, but it extended the discussion of the topics brought up in the play past the final bow.

I bring it up because in this sense I feel like this production went a step beyond just creating art. There was an element of this production that involved trying to make positive changes in the community. Any good art (and a lot of bad art) can have a positive impact, but this production focused on amplifying and accelerating that change. If you can’t tell, I’m very proud to have been a part of it.

In this episode:

  • why you might tackle a show that isn’t a crowd-pleaser – every theatre company needs to pay the bills, but artistic integrity and community engagement can lead us to other types of work
  • what to do when you can’t count on season subscribers – if you are doing a production that is very different than the type of material a particular venue typically produces, how do you reach beyond the typical subscriber base?
  • how granular can you get with your sponsors – we’ve all heard of season sponsors and even the occasional show sponsor, but have you heard of organizations sponsoring individual performances?
  • the key to getting press coverage – I’ve blogged before about how you need to give the press a story worth talking about, and here’s a real world example
  • which marketing tactic Doug feels had the biggest effect at the box office – if you’ve been following Sold Out Run for a while this won’t be a surprise
  • what a production blog can do for you – how to create a home base for online marketing activity

Items mentioned:

  • ManKind Project – an organization that supports a healthy view of masculinity and was a key sponsor for Doug’s production
  • Extremities at Spotlight Theatre – this is the Facebook page where you can see much of the activity that was done online to promote this production plus the type of resources Doug was linking to in raising awareness
  • Doug Powers – stay on top of Doug’s exploits in theatre and elsewhere by following his Facebook feed (this link only works if you are logged into Facebook: )
  • Win a copy of Reaching a New Audience – where to enter if you’d like to win one of three free copies of the marketing it I created to help you DIY the Sold Out Run approach to promoting your show

Discussion Question: The focus of this episode was talking about a production that can be challenging to market because the subject matter involves some uncomfortable aspects of our society that most people would rather not think about. That leads me to wonder what is the most difficult show to market? Think back on the shows you’ve seen or been involved with that were violent, confusing, repetitive, technical, loud, or seemed like they would be boring (even if they were amazing). What’s the toughest show you’ve seen anyone try to promote? Your responses here.

Have a question?

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  1. Go to the Sold Out Run page in iTunes.
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  3. Write a sentence or two about what you like (or don’t like).

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