Where do we go from here?

Last week the SiP executive had the first of a series of debriefing meetings to go over the successes and shortcomings of this year’s inaugural festival. The general consensus: things went far better than we expected. Of course there were some definite areas which weren’t as good as we’d have liked.

Perhaps the most important of these was in the area of documentation. Though we did arrange for some video footage to be taken of our plays at the last minute, it was haphazard and we’re not sure what the quality is. And we had uneven photographic coverage of the festival as well. Music of The Bahamas, The Tempest and Zora were well covered (as you can see in our rotating image box — all images there courtesy of Peter Ramsay, Ringplay‘s official photographer) but for the others we have to rely on other sources and have to collect pictures. DEFINITELY an area where we need serious work for next year.

Another area was preproduction and management of the venues. We need to beef up our volunteer corps. The people who did come out and assist were wonderful, but we learned that we needed more trained hands on deck. That raises two main issues. One, we need a system which will enable us to manage and train our volunteers, and two, we need more training in stage and production management. We need more people like our production managers for The Tempest!

And finally, we weren’t able to offer the workshop programming during the Festival that we would have liked. We ran our workshop before the Festival, and will hold others between now and next year, but in the future we would also like to incorporate workshops into the Festival as well.

This month (November) we start meeting with potential sponsors for next year. This year, our creative barter partnerships saved us. Even though we had lots of support from the general public, even though we sold more tickets than we expected, and even though we made more money than we anticipated, we also had considerable overheads. Theatre rentals are the major ones. Though the Dundas and the Hub gave us fabulous breaks, they too have to make a living and we now have to pay their rent. Ticketing was another, and marketing a third. Once again, our partners (Bahamas Tickets and CL Concepts) worked with us and gave us very good prices, but they were real costs, money that had to be paid out. Again, we had the t-shirts and the posters to pay for, and the programmes — all real money as well. We’re still tallying, and we are likely to have covered all our costs and to have some money in the bank to start to pay for next year’s festival, but it’s clear that without buy-in from sponsors this festival cannot survive. On the plus side, though, the people who did partner with us got some benefits as well, so it’s a win-win situation.

Shakespeare in Paradise isn’t going to go to sleep until 2010, much as some of us would love to! We’re planning something for the Christmas season — not a festival per se, but something to keep the festival’s name alive. Keep your eyes peeled for activities that happen between the two Junkanoos.

In addition, we are continuing with our commitment to education in a number of ways. First, we’re going to be hosting a closed workshop for the Shoestring technique in January (we’ve already identified the participants) which will be offered free of charge to the participants on the condition that they pass the techniques on. The idea is this. There’s a theatre method that was developed by Professor Joseph Hart which uses mythology, symbols and percussion to develop theatre for children. Prof. Hart, hearing about Shakespeare in Paradise and the need for theatre training and exposure in The Bahamas, has offered to provide the workshops for us for free (ordinarily one would pay fees of up to $6000 for the training) on the condition that the initial group of participants use what they learn to train others. The idea is that in a year or two the method will be spread exponentially throughout the nation, with the goal to producing one new show a year for the Festival proper, and/or incorporating workshops in the method into the Festival as well.

Second, we’ve got plans for the new year which relate to our partnership with Cable Bahamas. In return for the cross-channel advertising that they provided us, we’re releasing the Ringplay adaptation of Macbeth for airing during the period leading up to the BGCSE examinations. And there are other things that we’ve discussed and will be planning as time goes on, time and wherewithal depending.

So keep your eyes open, subscribe to our feed, or bookmark this page for updates!

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