For this post, I thought I’d try a trial pitch to a programmer. The advice from Claire Symonds at the Lowry informed us that there is not hard and fast rule for pitching to programmer, although we were given examples of ‘best practice’. This post would likely be the covering letter to a ‘tour pack’ which would be sent to potential programmers. I’ve annotated this letter in red, to explain my reasoning – these annotations would not be included in the actual covering letter.
Dear James, (whilst a tour pack can be generic, the covering letter should be personalised to the venue. Claire at Lowry said it was crucial to address the programmer by name.)
Please find attached the tour pack for my latest work SUBSCRIBE. Which I think would make a great addition to Spring 2019 programme at Camden People’s Theatre. (The tour pack would likely include photos, press reviews, technical specifications as well as links to videos of the show.)
My name is Josh Cannon, and I’m one third of Popbox Theatre, we performed Love Letters to Asia at CPT last summer (I have a slight advantage as I’ve performed at this venue before. Hopefully they’ll remember me, but given the volume of work they see, it’s possible they may have forgotten. I just wanted to reaffirm that relationship, and remind them that they have seen and programmed my work previously). SUBSCRIBE marks my first piece of solo work, a contemporary, devised piece which explores vlogging in the live theatre space (Claire said it was good to start with a one sentence summary of the show, it allows programmers to read and understand quickly):
SUBSCRIBE: A show about YouTube and my very arrogant alter-ego, a self-confessed ‘famous’ vlogger. Join him as he talks to you about what it’s like to be vlogger, he may even show you examples of his work, but be careful, as with anything on YouTube not everything is as it seems.
SUBSCRIBE lets us see the live side of vlogging. Taking the person we usually see through a screen and putting them right there in front of us. This experimental performance explores vlogging and gives us chance to question whether we should actually believe everything we see. Expect screens, videos and larger-than-life personalities as SUBSCRIBE explores one of the world’s newest and most popular media forms.
(Although it sounds simple, I had to include a brief summary/ copy for the piece, programmers want know whether the work would be appropriate for their venue, so they need to know as much about it, in as little time, as possible)
CPT has great reputation for supporting emerging artists particularly in the contemporary sphere, I admire your varied programme and it would be a pleasure to perform at the venue again. This work is in part inspired by Louise Orwin’s Pretty/Ugly which premiered at CPT back in 2013. Given the success of Orwin’s piece, I’d really like to share my work with the CPT audience. (These are two of the main reasons I’ve chosen this venue. They support artists in the early stage of their careers, just like myself. They have also programmed similar work, including Orwin’s piece, which has been a big inspiration on my work)
Since Pretty/Ugly , there haven’t been many examples of theatremakers exploring YouTube in this depth. This makes SUBSCRIBE a pretty unusual piece, which engages with an extremely popular media form. London was graced with a state of the art ‘YouTube’ space back in 2016, marking it on the map as one the world’s biggest youtube cities. There’s a real potential to get some new audiences into the theatre here, as you’ll be able to see in my audience development strategy. (I wanted to let the programmer know what made this show unique. I also wanted to illustrate that alongside the existing audience, I have a strategy for bringing new audiences into the show. Ultimately, theatres and programmers need to sell tickets, so it’s good to show that you have a plan to address this)
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions. Thanks for reading, and look forward to hearing from you soon
(Overall the covering letter may seem short, but programmers get sent hundreds of email. Claire’s advice was keep it short, and succinct)