Our First Broadsheet Review

And it’s a good’un, too.

Today’s Times has a short review in the Arts section for Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales.

“My three-year-old […] also enjoyed the low-theatre approach of Red Table Theatre’s retelling of some of Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales (three stars, at the Pleasance, N1 – and strictly speaking for ages four and over). With some changes in costume, the odd bit of puppetry and a few bursts into Danish song, the cast of four make these tales come to life.”

If you have a subscription you can read the review on the Times website – or failing that you could, you know, go out and buy a paper. That would work too.

The show runs until New Year’s Eve, and you can buy tickets from the Pleasance website.

A Christmas that’s Just So

And the last theatrical Christmas announcement this year (unless someone is putting on a production of mine in secret somewhere and hasn’t told me about it) is that Red Table’s production of The Just So Stories, as seen at this year’s Edinburgh Festival, is going to be touring to St Albans this Christmas.

Here are some reviews of the production from Edinburgh.

The show is playing at the Trestle Arts Base in St Albans from Sunday 18 December to Tuesday 20 December, and tickets are £10 for adults, £8 for children, and £32 for a family ticket.

Find out more and book tickets at the Trestle Theatre website.

A Fairy Tale Christmas

After taking The Just So Stories to the Edinburgh Festival this year, where we made a profit…

(I’ll just let you take a moment to let that sink in. We made a profit. At Edinburgh. Yes, our shows really are that good.)

…I’m pleased to be able to say that tickets are now on sale for the Red Table Christmas show.

We’re working once more with our friends at Pleasance Theatre, and this Christmas we’re bringing the magical fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen to the theatre.

The show runs from 6 December 2011 to 31 December 2011, and tickets cost £9 for adults and £7 for children.

You can book your tickets online or by calling the Pleasance Box Office on 020 7609 1800.

Curtain Up

Due to the magic of computers, this post will be published at exactly the same time as the audience are seated and the lights come up for The Just So Stories in Edinburgh.

The show runs twice a day from today until the 29th August, with two days off on the 10th and 22nd.

We’ve got a great cast, four great stories, and a great venue.

Now all we need is a great audience.

Book tickets here.

Open Book Theatre

M’brother Rafe and I will be talking at RADA next Saturday (9th July) about Open Book Theatre.

The event’s being held under the auspices of the Directors Guild of Great Britain, with support from the Mackintosh Foundation. I believe that DGGB members get first dibs on the tickets, but that any spare ones will be allocated to members of the public.

We’ll be talking about, among other things:

  • What is Open Book Theatre?
  • Contracts, Unions, and best practice
  • Involving cast and crew in the process
  • How we raise a production budget
  • How we pay investors back with interest
  • How profit share works in this system
  • The benefits of Open Book to production companies
  • Can the model be extended to other applications, like film?
  • Reality vs Theory – what we learned, what we plan to do, and expensive lessons we’d like to help you to avoid

So if you’d like to come along, book your free ticket here.

The Just So Stories at the Edinburgh Festival

It’s my absolute pleasure to be able to tell you two things.

Firstly, that Red Table made a profit on our recent production of The Just So Stories at the Pleasance Theatre this Easter.

A Fringe Theatre show? Not losing money? Inconceivable!

As it turns out, when you’re involving actors and crew using the Open Book Theatre model, that word does not mean what you think it means.

Every investor has made their money back. Together with a 10% return on their investment.

Every actor and crew member involved in the production has been paid a share of the money that we made, in a clear and open manner.

To say we’re happy with this result is an understatement. It’s proof that this new model works. That people involved in fringe theatre don’t need to lose money.

Which leads us to announcement the second:

The production has been so successful that we’re taking it up to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year, once more with our friends at the Pleasance.

The Just So Stories will be showing twice a day at 12:30pm and 2:45pm in The Green, the giant igloo at the heart of the Pleasance Courtyard (that’s venue 33, fringe-fans), one of the largest venues in the Edinburgh Festival, with over 450,000 visitors expected across the course of the festival.

The auditorium only seats 60 parents and children, so if I were you I’d book early. Tickets are available now from the Pleasance Box Office or by calling 0131 556 6550.

Still not convinced that this is going to be one of the best shows at the festival? Take a few minutes to read the reviews of the Easter production.

And I hope to see you there.

Open Book Theatre

My little theatre company made the front page of The Stage this week.

For those of you too far from a newsagent to pick up a copy for yourself, or who live in the future where paper is considered a barbaric relic of our savage past, you can also read the article online.

As you’ll see, what we’re creating here is nothing less than a new business model for fringe theatre.

We call it Open Book Theatre.

The concept is very simple: everyone in one of our productions gets to see the accounts. They know what we’re aiming for. Where the money’s coming in. Where the money’s going to.

There’s no longer any need for the cast and crew in a profit-share show to suspect that someone who isn’t them is coming away rich, because now all the information is available to them. And if they can find better ways of doing things, they let us know and we do it.

And everybody wins.

Open Book Management has been around for many years now. I first came across it about a decade ago in Jack Stack’s book The Great Game of Business (which is still an excellent introduction to the idea). But as far as we know, no-one in the world’s ever tried it in theatre before.

That’s changed now.

As well as helping promote transparency, we hope to improve conditions for everyone.

We as a company believe that the best thing for anyone is to have a proper union contract. Both of the founders of Red Table are members of the relevant Trade Unions – The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and Equity respectively – and we recommend that as soon as possible any theatre company should use the contracts recommended by those unions.

But those contracts are still designed for larger productions, and in the case of small fringe productions it may not be possible to guarantee a minimum wage to cast and crew if the production is to happen at all. Instead, what tends to happen is that there are no contracts at all, and no protection.

We believe this should change, and are making the first steps towards this.

You can read the model agreements that we’re currently using on our website. Feel free to borrow them, use them, amend them – and let us know what works and what doesn’t. So we can improve the process for everyone.

As production on The Just So Stories continues, Rafe’s blogging about the open-book part of the process over at the Red Table website.

So feel free to go over there and ask any questions about how it’s all working out in practice.

Giant Happy Crab Is Happy

Some fantastic news: The Just So Stories – which I produced at The King’s Head Theatre over Christmas – is transferring to the Pleasance Theatre for a three-week run over Easter.

The show’s going to be better than ever, with a bigger and more comfortable snuggle pit for the children and a brand-new set from which the cast will find exciting items which they’ll use to bring to life five of Kipling’s best-beloved tales.

Just as with Red Table‘s first production, The Just So Stories will be run using Open Book Management, meaning that all of the financial and business information about the show will be available to cast, crew, and investors throughout the production period.

Rafe’s blogging about the process as we go over on the Red Table website.

There are some exciting things coming up in the world of Open Book Theatre as we introduce this new model to the industry – and there’ll be more news about that soon. But not quite yet. Stay tuned…

Tickets are £10, £7 for kids, and are available now from the Pleasance website

The Just So Stories

That’s Pau Amma, The Crab That Played With The Sea, as drawn for us by Hannah Broadway. If you look closely, you can see that he is taller than the smoke of three volcanoes!

Tickets are now on sale for The Just So Stories at the King’s Head Theatre from December 15 2010 through to January 3 2011.

I’m producing the play, and my brother Rafe is directing – the first production from our new theatre company, Red Table.

£10 for adults, £6 for concessions.

Buy your tickets here. The power of Giant Happy Crab compels you!