Dallas — When last we left off, we had chosen our first season, performance spaces were being secured (more on that next month), and we were beginning to build some buzz through our fundraising campaign and word of mouth. What was next? Well...
“What shows are you doing?”
“What’s your first show going to be?”
“What’s your Season?”
“Tell us your Season!!”
We were remaining as tight-lipped as possible regarding the shows and structure of our inaugural Season. As our Strategic Development Manager, Billy Betsill, says at almost every one of our meetings: you only have one chance to make a first impression. This would be the biggest First Impression of them all.
Early on in IMPRINT we knew a Season Announcement Party was in the cards. We didn’t want our first season to be announced via a Facebook post or an emailed press release, not that there’s anything wrong with that model. We just wanted to make our announcement an event. A moment we could celebrate with everyone who supported us—IMPRINT was happening! We wanted a party atmosphere, but one that promoted the tenets of our mission of uniting with artists in the community to show a strong front of ensemble, collaboration, and excitement about the challenging works ahead of us. It was time to plan our Season Announcement Party and the pressure was on.
We settled on a basic “revue” like structure telling the story of our shows through music. With two of the shows being musicals, that came easy. We would take a couple numbers from the shows and have them performed. The plays...well. That would be different. We picked songs that best exemplified the themes of our plays from various musicals. Then in turn, we picked songs that forwarded the message of IMPRINT. Future producers should take note here, there are licenses and agreements you must obtain through ASCAP and MTI to be able to perform these numbers, and strict rules to adhere to. This goes back to our first Square One column: the importance of a strong TEAM—which was imperative in mounting this party and all future endeavors. Jessie Wallace, our Company Manager set on the ASCAP licenses while Joe obtained the permissions from MTI. Divide and conquer, and always pay for your rights.
We settled on the songs and got our music director lined up (Rebecca Lowrey is a godsend). Next step was to secure our cast members. We wanted a dynamic cast of varying ages, types, and regional footprints. We wanted strong voices and engaging actors, but we also made a conscious decision to reach out to people we hadn’t necessarily worked with before—it was a fun chance to work with new people and to expand our reach outside of our immediate circles. Here came another consideration and permission: Actors Equity. We reached out to Equity and were able to get special permission to hire Equity Actors for our benefit, but it took time and a detailed application (Thanks to Dennis Yslas for the guidance there). Jessie took the lead and we got the approval in time to secure three equity actors for our show. It’s important to consider the appropriate avenues for your goals, and follow the rules… This couldn’t have been done overnight… In fact it took about six weeks. Respect the union and the actors who are in it.
Rehearsals began in August, as did all of the preparations. We would spend weeknights rehearsing, Saturdays at the Bath House cleaning, painting, building, and prepping, and Sundays meeting to ensure everything was planned. Benjamin Bratcher, our Business Manager and Shane Beeson, our Board President, set out to secure donations for our Silent Auction. Benjamin and Billy were working on the advertising and getting the word out. Jessie was working hard as artist liaison. Ashley was directing the show and Joe was finalizing the remaining arrangements. We were working nonstop. Divide and conquer.
Finally, in late August, The night of the announcement party came. Freshly painted walls and columns were ready to seen by new eyes. Delicious food and drinks, generously donated by friends and family, were set and ready to be consumed. String lights adorned the performance area giving the space a twinkling and magical vibe. A new stage was set, and the sound system was cranked and looking to blow people out of their seats. We had a goal of forty tickets, but sold well over them, landing with standing room only and a packed house of friends, family, and strangers all there to support us and our vision.
At 8 p.m., we took the stage. The room was full of excitement and love, but we still felt plenty of nerves. Behind the crowd, a gorgeous view of the skyline stretched over White Rock Lake. It felt like Dallas had a view of us; waiting to see what we were going to bring it.
As we looked around the room, we were overwhelmed by the support we had. Our friends. Our Family. Our City. We each took a microphone and began to tell the story of our Season. The performers took the stage and the show began. The night passed in a joyful blur. It was electric and a moment none of us will forget... If you were in the room that night, you know… you felt it. And we can never thank you enough for your early support of our company.
Show one was done. It took a ton of work and a ton of collaboration, but we were beginning to make our mark…This was the night, after all of the work, all of the stress, all of the paperwork and anticipation, that we officially became IMPRINT.
» Ashley H. White and Joe Messina are co-artistic directors of IMPRINT theatreworks, which begins its first season this weekend with David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross.
» Square One runs on the second Monday of the month
PREVIOUSLY IN SQUARE ONE