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Year of the Producer Blog: The Independent Life

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Inspired by our adoption of Stage One as the charity for the 2012 Whatsonstage.com Awards, we’re declaring this the “Year of the Producer” on Whatsonstage.com, and are running a 12-month editorial series of interviews, blogs and other features to give theatregoers a greater understanding of the crucial role of the producer and an insight into the people who put on the shows they love.

In this blog post, Stage One bursary recipient Jethro Compton, who has his own production company, is an associate artist at Southwark Playhouse and is also producer and co-artistic director of Belt Up Theatre, explains how the charity has helped him.

A wise old man once warned me that producing can be a very lonely business. Of course producing does have its fabulous show business qualities; opening night galas, champagne breakfasts and private auditions with gorgeous young actresses.

However, you spend the rest of your time alone with your thoughts; you lie awake at night panicking about ticket sales, panicking about your cash flow, generally panicking – and the whole time making sure there is enough money in your account to purchase that all important one-way ticket to a non-deportable country and start your new life.

Being an independent producer, at times you are the captain of your own ship, with a full crew, a glorious destination and engines running full steam ahead. At others your ship is sinking, your crew has drowned, the water is rising and all the lifeboats have f****d off.

Over the past few months I’ve felt a real change in the way I work with other producers – even the way I socialise with other producers. A lot of people see them as the competition… the enemy. The reality is that we all share the same enemies and actually by working together, sharing and helping each other as producers, individually we all become far stronger.

Stage One gives you that network. It’s not quite a safety net, but it’s a close a thing you’ll get to a safety net. Whether that’s through the training, workshops and seminars that they offer, which prepare you as best as possible for the journey ahead, or the connections they make between us all, Stage One develops a network of people throughout the industry of all ages, experiences and backgrounds.

Producing independently is one of the most satisfying and rewarding experiences in theatre. To be working for a producer and to be part of that experience is obviously brilliant. But to work independently, or as an equal, the theatre you make is your theatre. It isn't someone else's artistic vision. It's yours. And what better way to learn than to just do it? And if you get it wrong? Even better. It's the mistakes that mean something. Successes are pure luck.

And as much as I love the Apprentices, I do love reminding them of the fact I get to have a lie-in whenever I like. And I can take a lunch break all afternoon if I want. That is, if I’m not too busy having a nap… or if I’ve gone home early. Or not come in at all. And of course there’s naked Friday. I bet they don’t get that in their West End offices.

For more articles from our Year of the Producer series, visit whatsonstage.com/yearoftheproducer

For further information about the producers taking part, click here.


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