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 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.

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.

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.

Red Table

So I’ve set up a theatre company.

This has been rumbling on for a while now. M’brother Rafe and myself have had several successful productions already individually – Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol for me, Dark Tales, Kitty and Damnation, and The Duchess of Padua for him – and we wanted to do some work together.

So together we’ve founded Red Table, a company dedicated to bringing outstanding fringe theatre to London.

I’m also pleased to be able to announce that our first production will be an adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Just So Stories at The King’s Head Theatre in Islington this Christmas, from the 15 December through to the 3 January. Rafe is directing the show, while I’m producing.

Rehearsals started on Monday with a – frankly – magnificent cast and tickets will be on sale shortly.

You can find out more about the company, the production, and the cast by visiting the Red Table website.

We want information. Information!

M’brother Rafe and I are attempting to put on a play this Christmas. This will be the first production of our new theatre company.

If we can make the figures work, it’ll be on in London as a late morning or early afternoon show in December/January this year.

There are a lot of interesting things that we want to do, including something that – as far as we’re aware – has never been attempted in Fringe Theatre before. More details on that over the next month or so.

But in the short term, we need some data on what time people would be most likely to go to the theatre in the day.

That’s where you come in.

If you’d be so good as to spend a few minutes to answer a short questionnaire, it’d help us immensely in our planning.