Saturday, November 23, 2013

creating a/broad, November 23, 2013

Landing in a Network - and a Home
by Cameryn Moore

I don’t know exactly what makes the difference between my having a good experience in a city and a great one, but after a whirlwind 10 days in Atlanta, I have something closer to a theory:

My time in any city is great in direct relation to how thoroughly interconnected the network is that I land in.

Obviously I mean 'a great time' as a joint consideration of both professional and personal results. Those are both important for me in order to have a great fucking time. I have gone to cities where I have gotten laid like whoa, or made friends for a lifetime, but my shows were very poorly attended. Other places I’ve walked out with an award or sold out shows, but left hardly knowing anyone new. Now I’m looking at the whole package, at the interconnectedness. Now I know what to look for in advance, to know whether I need to brace myself for 'meh' or get ready for amazing. 

First sign that things are going to be great: the producing organization has someone who is in charge of marketing.

Bonus points on the personal side of things if my billet is friendly

Second sign: when I ask that person if there are any places I could perform for visibility purposes, they have three suggestions for the first three days. Even better if these are not theatre events, but cross-related fields (storytelling, spoken word, sex events, and so on). It’s fine if it’s an off week—that happens almost everywhere except New York—but it is a bad sign if a person in that position has no suggestions whatsoever, even ones that normally happen but aren’t, for whatever reason, this month.

(Somewhere in there I should be checking OKCupid and finding a large handful of potential dates. The fact that, in the case of Atlanta, none of them immediately panned out, doesn’t mean anything. The possibility was there. Bonus points on the personal side of things if my billet is friendly, and super bonus points if they, too, have suggestions of events to attend with promotional/visibility potential.)

Third sign: when I make my first promotional appearance, and people I meet there say something like “Oh, yes! The phone sex lady! I’ve heard so much about you!” or “I’ve been seeing your ads all over Facebook,” when I know for a fact that no ads were placed and, since I don’t know anybody in that town yet, they have not actually heard about me from anyone I know personally. Someone else is spreading the word of mouth. In this case, it was the marketing person.

(Triple round of bonus points if I am in a place where I can easily do Sidewalk Smut. That makes every city better. Also, gas money.)

This guy was impressed enough by my performance that he totally let me talk for longer at Write Club

I stepped into a particularly fortuitous week in Atlanta’s storytelling and literary scene, when there were two storytelling events on the Monday and Tuesday nights, and then a big Wednesday night literary event (Write Club Atlanta, aw yeah, in presentation it is every bit as bombastic as it sounds, but it’s some quality shit, I’m telling you). The marketing person for the Atlanta Fringe set me up to appear at the two storytelling events, and to pitch my show for 90 seconds from the stage at Write Club. Even better, the organizer and promoter of Write Club heard me telling a story on Monday night; it was a story about exploring my sexuality with a metal knitting needle, HAHAHAHAHAH, “New Frontiers”, I’ll give you new frontiers. This guy was impressed enough by my performance that he totally let me talk for longer at Write Club (in front of 150 smart people, hungry for more smart events). He came to my show on opening night, promoted it out constantly on Facebook, and then we got to sit around and talk shop for, like, two or three nights in there.

That was pure good luck and timing on my part. If I had arrived a week later or a week earlier, I wouldn’t have been able to drop so readily into the forward momentum of that week. But the Fringe marketing guy, he was the one who knew the other people; through him, I know the Write Club organizer, and between the two of them, I know everyone there. I learned where the theatre crowd goes after shows. I learned when the storytelling festivals are, and where those came from. I learned which neighborhood is best for Sidewalk Smut and also overpriced secondhand clothing stores (hello, Little 5 Points, I’m looking at you). 

He honestly believes, as I do, that a rising tide raises all boats.

The maddening thing is, I can’t plan this shit. I can’t say to myself, “Hey, I am going to find those opinion leaders and movers and shakers, and I am going to hang out with them late and get them to my show, and they will fall in love with my work and we will all live happily ever after.” Maybe you can do that, I can’t. I’m sure I missed that lecture in my audience development class in grad school. I don’t know how to do that.

Fourth sign that my time in a city is going to be awesome: when I meet someone who I like, whose professional or artistic purpose jives with mine, and who is a fucking missionary about it. It means that a) he will not have an issue promoting my shit, but also b) he is an enthusiastic proponent for general culture in that town. He honestly believes, as I do, that a rising tide raises all boats. After visiting a number of cities and spending time in different genres where the players were incredibly territorial and too wrapped up in defending their turf, I want to be involved in a community, or at least with people who want to have community. I want to be around people who feel friendly about their colleagues and collaborators. I want to be involved in that community, even if only for a week and a half. I want people to want me there, and ask when I’m coming back.

And I can be pretty sure that’s going to happen when these four signs occur.

Atlanta Fringe

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