Tuesday, May 17, 2022

My 11th year sales

Well, it was a good news, bad news kind of year. The good news? I had 199 productions, which was up 28% over the 155 I had last year.

The bad news? That's still down 45% from the 361 I achieved in my peak year of 2018-2019.

My total royalties, however, were much better, being up a whopping 155% from last year and down only 32% from my best year.

Of course, that drop in the number of productions isn't totally unexpected. The fall semester was heavily impacted by the omicron variant of COVID, and while this resulted in milder symptoms than earlier variants, it still discouraged a lot of schools from herding a bunch of kids onto a stage for weeks of rehearsals. So yeah, I get it (although it is funny that sports never get affected that way).

There is one bright spot to all this. Those schools that figured out how to stream or record their shows during the darkest days of COVID are still doing it for their live performances as an option for those unable to attend. As a result, many productions are generating an extra royalty for that stream or recording.

Now that COVID has finally evolved into something closer to the flu, I expect that the school and community theater world will fully rebound and that in the coming year, all playwrights will see bigger royalty checks.

As it has been since premiering in 2017, The Enchanted Bookshop was my best-selling play for the year with 63 performances. That's up from 38 last year but down from the 156 it received its full year of publication. It already has 28 productions booked for next year so that's one sign that things are improving.

Last year, for the first time, The Enchanted Bookshop Musical was my #2 show. It had 25 productions l, which is very impressive for a large-cast musical in a COVID-impacted year. In fact, that's only a 14% drop from the 28 it received its first year. And it already has 8 productions booked for next year.

You're Driving Me Crazy! has always done well, and last year was no exception, with this driver's ed comedy coming in #3 with its 20 productions.  

Coming out in September 2020, just as the first COIVD wave was hitting hard, An Enchanted Bookshop Christmas has never had a normal year. Which may explain why this last year was its best year yet, with a very healthy 18 productions. Not only was this enough to place it at #4 on my list, but it ended up as the #1 full-length Christmas play at Pioneer.

To put it another way, my three Enchanted Bookshop plays got more productions than my other 18 plays combined.

Rounding out the top five, my perennially popular restaurant farce Million Dollar Meatballs received a respectable 15 productions,

Several plays only had 1 production, but unlike last year, none had 0 productions and none earned negative royalties (due to the cancellation of previously booked shows).

So yeah, I'm excited for the coming year. Productions of each of my existing plays should continue to grow. But I also have two new plays coming out (maybe more), which will add to my total.

Is this what hope feels like?

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Copper State Bookshop opens new theater


While many community theaters continue to struggle just to stay open, it's heartening to see a plucky young company not just succeed but actually build stylish new digs.

That's the case in Prescott Valley, Arizona. After bopping around from one borrowed venue to another for every twenty years, Prescott Valley Performing Arts is thrilled to finally have a home to call their own.

An article at the local SignalsAZ website tells the tale. A true labor of love, The Main Street Theatre was funded and built by volunteers from the community and will feature a wealth of artistic opportunities: acting classes, improv performances, after-school activities, and more.

It all begins May 13 with a production of Gilligan's Island: The Musical. Shortly after that, the theater will offers its first theater camps with productions of The Nifty Fifties for teens and The Enchanted Bookshop for younger folk.
 
I hate to admit it, but I've only been to this lovely burg once, and then only when I was passing through after a weekend in Sedona (it's about 60 miles north of Phoenix). But with a snazzy new venue like this, I'm going to have to start going up there a lot.



Friday, May 13, 2022

Hoosier Bookshop builds confidence


When the Washington Times-Herald of Washington, IN wrote up a preview of Veale Street Theatreer's upcoming production of The Enchanted Bookshop, they got as many quotes from the kids performing the play as they could.

Many of the young actors describe their character's roles in the play. Others mention how much fun they're having. 

"I'm the oldest of four kids so this role was pretty easy for me," jokes Kianna Smith about her role as the Wicked Witch of the West.

But my favorite quote came from Brooklyn Schofield, who plays the Book Fairy. "It's done so much to help me embrace myself and find my confidence."

That's what youth theater is all about.

Break legs, everybody! And may you all find the confidence that's already inside you.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Tarheel Murder finally takes the stage


Community theaters are run by busy, day-working volunteers, so they often have to spread their rehearsals over an extended period. Three, even four months isn't uncommon. But that's nothing for the Good Time Players of Mayberry--oops, I mean Mount Airy, NC (famous for being the hometown of Andy Griffith). The Mount Airy News has the scoop.

After their initial shutdown for COVID, this plucky little theater company started rehearsing last June for my Hollywood mystery Lights! Camera! Murder! Unfortunately, they were forced to shut down later that year when omicron reared its much more contagious head. That production is finally taking stage this weekend, a whopping eleven months after rehearsals first began.

Broken legs to all! I'm sure it's a great feeling to finally have an audience again.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Cotton State Bookshop funds Ukraine rescue group


I've seen some great photos from South Baldwin Community Theatre's recent production of The Enchanted Bookshop, but none have warmed my heart as much as this one from today's edition of The Mullet Wrapper. If you can't read the fine print, that right there is a check for $1722, and it was raised by the young cast for Project Dynamo, a non-profit rescue group working in Ukraine.

According to the article, director Sharon Watson (L) and assistant director Linda Miller (R) were thrilled when the youthful thespians approached them with the idea. "I feel it's important to instill the spirit of giving in young artists," Watson said.

As a result, they quickly learned to become effective fundraisers. Miller persuaded 23 local businesses to donate gift cards. Meanwhile, families of the cast and three area libraries donated books to sell at the performances.

No doubt, there's a lot of bad stuff going on in the world today. But it's generosity like this that gives me hope for the future.