Pitch

This is your location for all things pitching. Choose what you want to do from one of the options below.

Before you Pitch

Before you even think about filling in this form please read the following points.

  • Aim to submit at least an hour before the deadline. Think of Murphy's Law
  • You cannot put images into your responses. The place to put images is in the appendices
  • You cannot format your responses. The only thing which will work is raw text so don't waste time with anything else
  • Try to write your pitch in a programme which will catch spelling and grammar mistakes
  • If you're having trouble or something isn't working as it should then get in touch with the Webmaster

Every play Theatre Group puts on is chosen, directed and produced by our members, and so we hold pitching meetings throughout the year for potential teams to demonstrate their ideas for a show to fill one of the performance slots in the year. This is a great opportunity for you to have complete artistic control over a production of your choice, with the full help and support of the society beside you if you’d like it.

Contents

The Process

There are two parts to the process: a submitted written pitch and a spoken verbal pitch a few days later.

The Written Pitch

The written pitch is a form on the website covering all the basics of your pitch. You must submit this before the written pitch deadline for a particular pitching session to give committee and the society a chance to read the pitch before the spoken pitch. The questions on the form are there to help you form a comprehensive pitch document but are not necessarily all relevant for every show. What follows is a brief rundown of each question on the pitch form. You can also take a look at the written pitches of previous pitches on the resources page.

Which Slot are You Pitching For?

Theatre Group has five slots for our 'Main Shows' which have fixed dates and are performed in the Annex and teched by StageSoc. We also do a Show in a Week, several Independents and a Edinburgh show. See the section on slots for detailed information. We will only be hearing pitches for certain shows at each pitching session however.

Name of Play

This tends to be helpful.

Playwright

Who wrote the play. If it is an adaption or translation then who performed this is also helpful for knowing which script you are using.

Rights Held By

The rights company that owns the rights to the show if indeed anyone does (copyright laws are complex but any contemporary play or play who's author died less that (roughly) 100 years ago will probably have rights you will need to obtain to perform it legally). Theatre Group has had enough problems with obtaining rights for shows in the past that we require you to have confirmed that the rights for your show are available for the week you are planning to perform in. Checking with the rights company normally involves emailing them to check the play is available to perform by an amateur company for the nights you wish.

Production Team

Here you should list the members of your production team, what roles they will be taking on the team any experience they have applicable to the role and often people include a statement about why they are passionate about the play. You do not need a complete production team at the time of the pitch - if you plan to add extra members then it is a good idea to mention this and how you might find them - but you should have your core team together since you are unlikely to get a pitch without any full directors and some kind of producer.

Play Synopsis

A brief description of the play. It is your discretion how long this is but it is a good idea to include an overview, major plot points and any prevalent themes. The idea of the synopsis is to give enough of an idea of the play that the rest of your pitch makes sense so any moments, scenes or themes that you mention later absolutely must be included. People should not need to have read the script to understand your directorial interpretation and production.

Directorial Interpretation

This section is to describe what you are doing with the script. If you are trying to highlight particular themes in the play say this. If you're interpretation of the play is going to be very different to previous interpretations then how? Are you setting the play in a different time or location? Perhaps you're even gender swapping it. You can talk about whatever you feel is important be it genre, theme, staging, rehearsal techniques, whatever you want. Do not however, feel you need a grand, bold, new interpretation - saying what you feel is important about the play as it stands is just as valid.

Sensitive Content

This is a section to declare anything in the play that auditionees should be made aware of or that an audience might find distressing. You will have to use your judgement here as to what actually is sensitive as it is extremely dependent on the play but as a general rule anything from a romantic kiss upwards we would like you to include. Do not worry about this section - sensitive content isn't a bad thing just something to be aware of.

Number in Cast

The total number of cast members, the number of male parts, the number of female parts and any parts whose gender is flexible. It is alright to include some wiggle room here if numbers of cast depend on other factors, just be sure to explain this in the next section.

Breakdown of Characters

A list of the characters in the play with a very brief description of each. What you put here is again at your own discretion but gender and role in the play is a good place to start along with anything that makes the roles unique or unusual. Age might also be important aswell as a brief description of character and the size of the part. Whatever you consider important.

Technical Requirements

Technical requirements include the set, lighting, sound, projection and any other technical effects. It is important to mention any raises or flats you want to use and any pieces of set you want made. Think about what you want from the tabs (curtains at the side) and the backdrop. Lighting can just be standard washes but you should mention anything more than this. Mention any sound effects or music you want to use. When you talk about technical requirements the best thing to have done is talked to a member of StageSoc or our Tech Liaison and discussed your ideas to ensure everything is feasible. StageSoc know their tech very well and will often have more ideas for you as well as probably being able to estimate how much the tech might cost the show. Never forget that when describing a set, a picture can tell a thousand words.

Producing, Marketing & Publicity

Production is primarily the costumes and the props. Talk about what kind of costume you want from people and how you're going to source them. A complete list of props is not necessary but do mention any that will be tricky to source and how you plan to get them. Marketing and publicity is how you're going to spread the word about the play and get people to come see it. Standard techniques in Theatre Group are flyering and posters on campus, trailers and rehearsal/performance photos online and show clothing for cast and show photos for their Facebook profile pictures. Do think about creative ways to publicise the show however as they do tend to work much better than the standards although not all shows suit such things.

Why this Show?

A short, general statement about why Theatre Group should do this show. Why do our actors want to audition for it? Why will our audiences want to come see it? How does it fit the show slot?

Budget

A good budget is very important to prove that you have thought through the details and that the show is financially feasible. See the section on budgeting for more details.

Fundraising Plan (Edinburgh Play Only)

Edinburgh shows are very expensive to put on and we have to fund raise to get enough money to do them. Here you should be describing your fundraising plan in detail along with a timeline for it. Do not do this on your own. Get in touch with committee. Edinburgh shows are such a large undertaking that we have a whole member of committee devoted to overseeing it. If you are planning on putting on an Edinburgh show you should be getting in touch with our Tours Officer.

Appendices

This is a place to put anything that didn't fit into other sections or any files that aren't your budget or script. This could be diagrams of set, pictures of costume ideas, rehearsal ideas, publicity images or anything else you want.

Digital Copy of Script

You don't have to provide this if one is not available but it is extremely helpful to let people have a full read of the play beforehand. If you cannot provide a digital copy please get in touch with a member of Committee (try the President) in good time before the spoken pitch to arrange allowing people to read it.

The Spoken Pitch

The spoken pitch is a short presentation (limited to 10 minutes) your production team delivers to committee and any members of the society who want to come along followed by unlimited questions from the floor. This can seem quite daunting but is normally a very relaxed undertaking - in general the society wants to put on the show just as much as you do.

If there is more than one pitch for the same slot, then members of other pitch teams will have to wait outside whilst you give your presentation and vice versa. After all teams have pitched they all wait outside whilst everyone else present discusses the pitches. Following this non-members of committee also wait outside whilst committee discusses and finally votes on which show is passed.

The questions in the written pitch are formed to produce a comprehensive description of your pitch so if you are unsure of what to say in your spoken pitch then you can use it as a guideline. Most people will have already read your written pitch (although do not assume as only committee are required to) so do not simply repeat what is said there but elaborate on the important bits. Questions following your presentation will always be constructive but can be on anything so be prepared. If you feel more comfortable having a powerpoint style presentation to accompany you then you are welcome to and the visual aid is something you don't have access to in the written pitch so make full use of it.

Theatre Group has 7 fixed slots each academic year. We also put on several Independent shows a year which do not have a fixed date and can be pitched and performed whenever and wherever. This section aims to briefly describe each slot.

Halloween Show

Punk Rock

This is Theatre Group's first Annex show of the year and happens at the end of October on or around Halloween. It is normally a high tech slot and is often a show with darker themes to suit the Halloween feeling although this is not a necessity. Recent Halloween shows have included Punk Rock, Medea, Posh, Equus and Macbeth.

Freshers' Show

Animal Farm

This usually takes place in early December and is exclusively cast from people who have never been involved in a Theatre Group production before and is mainly aimed at Freshers. It is normally a low tech slot. Past shows include Animal Farm, Much Ado About Nothing, The Knight Who Smells of Sunflowers and Happily Ever After?.

Winter Show

The Real Thing and 100

This traditionally takes place towards the end of February. It is normally a low tech slot. The Real Thing / 100, The Game's Afoot, The Graduate and Great Expectations were performed in this slot recently.

Show in a Week

A Midsummer Night's Dream

A highly flexible and diverse semester two slot. It's designed to be rehearsed and performed in just one week. It is produced with a minimal budget and all profits go to a charity of the production team's choosing. The production team must decide what week to put on the show and it is not performed in the Annex. The show is kept a secret from everyone except for committee and the production team until the week of the show. Past shows have included A Midsummer Night's Dream, TBC, Shakespeare in a Week - Twelfth Night and Unseen.

Spring Show

Festen

This is the biggest slot of the year, performed at the end of March - it's a high tech slot usually with the biggest cast and the biggest budget. This play is a chance to really show off our talents and ideas. Past shows have been Festen, The Tempest, 1984 and Henry V.

Summer Show

Spring Awakening

This show takes place in the summer term before final exams. It's normally a low tech slot and it's the last Annex show we do in the year. Previously we've had Spring Awakening, The Winterling / This Wide Night, Blithe Spirit and Keeping Down With The Joneses.

Showcase

Showcase 2016

Showcase is a collection of short pieces with different directors organized by the Workshops Officers happening around early May. Members can submit short pieces either they've written or that they wish to direct and then people can request to direct the selected pieces. This is a more relaxed slot than the others with not much commitment, lots of people involved and the show itself being hosted in a sketch show style by the Workshops Officers.

Edinburgh Show

A Number

Most years we take up one or two plays to the international Edinburgh Fringe Festival that takes place in August. They require a sustained fundraising campaign to support them. This is a fantastic opportunity to have your directing/acting talents shown to an international audience. Recent shows to be toured include Numbers and A Number (both 2016), Strawberries in January (2015) and Tape and The Importance of Being Earnest (both 2014).

Independent Shows

Waiting for Godot

Since 2013/14, Theatre Group have encouraged people to pitch shows that will not have dedicated slots in The Annex Theatre. In these slots, committee will take lesser consideration of usual limiting factors such as cast size and gender split which can render a lot of new, exciting plays as unsuitable for our member base in large slots. Independent shows can be pitched at any time by asking committee. The committee may then choose to grant this request, often conditionally, with any profits the show might go on to make going back into the independent theatre budget. This is a great chance to put on more experimental or smaller-scale shows, and there is no restriction on the number of independent shows being performed each term. For more information, feel free to get in touch with a committee member. The first independent show was Confusions and since then we have gone on to have a wide range from a hilarious performance of The God of Carnage to the innovative and immersive Tender Napalm and most recently a production of the immortal Waiting for Godot.

Creating a budget for a show is a very important part of the pitching process but it is not a difficult process nor a lengthy one. The best piece of advise to remember is that Theatre Group's own Treasurer is always happy to help with creating a budget or looking over it for you. You can also have a look at previous budgets that were pitched in the resources page.

There are a couple of important things to keep in mind when you are doing a budget. You are planning for worst case scenario which means everything is the most expensive it could be and your ticket sales are the worst that they could be. Theatre Group is a non-profit organisation which means that zero profit is absolutely fine - if you are budgeting to make profit then think about how that money could improve the performance further - but your show should be financially viable so you can't be budgeting to make a loss. Lastly your pitch budget doesn't need to be exact but if it isn't then you will have to round up to be sure you're budgeting correctly.

The Budgetting Template

We recommend that you use this template as the starting point for any budget. This document will go through the steps for filling in the template for your show but it is geared towards a standard Theatre Group main show in the Annex Theatre. When filling in the budget, only edit cells containing question marks or those in green.

Contents

The Difference Between Gross and Net

The point of the budget template is so you do not need to understand the difference between gross and net - just always enter costs and income in the gross column and let the template do the rest. For those who are interested, the differnce is that gross includes VAT and net does not - the template assumes that certain items will not be applicable for VAT and the only time this is wrong tends to be when you are buying items from charity shops. Do not bother trying to account for this in a pitch budget.

The Sections

Ticket Sales

Ticket sales are your main source of income in any show. First fill in the capacity of your venue - most Annex shows will be around 130 seats. Then how many performances - the majority of TG shows will do a 4 night Wednesday - Saturday run. Now you must decide on the pricing of tickets - the standard for TG is PA at £5, Student at £6 and Adult at £8. There should be a reason if you are planning to up these prices. Next comes ticket sales which are specified as an average per night. A good place to start might be 8 adults, 15 students and 20 performing arts - you can mess around with these numbers but you will always get more PA than student and more student than adult and for a main show you should never be exceeding 40% capacity (which is calculated for you).

Programme Sales

Most main shows sell programmes on the front desk. The standard is to assume you will sell about 10 a night for £1 each.

Sponsorship

Sponsorship can be a great source of income for a costlier show. It involves going to an external business and them agreeing to give the show a lump sum generally in return for you putting their logo on all of your publicity material (posters, flyers, programmes, show clothing etc.). Some companies will also have other requests (restaurants may ask you to have a cast meal, clubs may expect a cast social etc.) but it is a good idea to come to them with an idea.

Contribution

Set this to zero unless you are planning on donating some of your own money.

Other Income

This section is for any weird and wonderful sources of income you have planned. Edinburgh shows should put their fundraising efforts here but it is unlikely other shows will have any other sources of income in which case set it to zero.

Venue Hire

For an Annex show this is £168. It covers hiring out the Annex and paying StageSoc. If you are not in the Annex then it depends on the venue. Students can book out most University or Union rooms for free (although if you want tech this may cost).

Performance Rights

A show with rights (most contemporary plays or plays whos author died more than around 100 years ago) will have to rent the rights from whoever owns them for every night you wish to perform them. A Google search is the best way to find out if a show is righted and who owns these rights. Before pitching you must have checked with the rights company to find out if the show is availble to be performed on the show nights and make sure they give you a quote for the price to put here. The company will normally specify them as per night but this field is the total for all nights.

Publicity

Here specify how much money you are planning to spend on publicity. Most Annex shows will at least flyer and buy an A0 poster to put up in the Annex. The best way to assess these costs is check the website of the company you wish to buy them from (check companies) and see how much they charge but otherwise a good figure (upper bound) would be £20 for an A0 poster and £30 for A6 flyers. Other things to think about are other posters around campus (which would come under posters), buying adverts elsewhere (on paper or online. This would come under 'Other') and anything else you can think of.

Set/Props

Props and set completely depend on the show. The best thing to do is to go through the script and form a prop list. Then decide whether you can source each item for free (there are many things in the PA house) or whether you will need to buy them and if you need to buy them estimate how much they will cost (if you don't know check Amazon/Ebay/Google to get an idea). An important thing to note is that if you wish to use raises then StageSoc does not own them, they must be rented from the Union at about £12 a sheet and this must come out of your show's budget.

Sounds/Lights/Technical

Standard sound and lighting effects will be covered under StageSoc hire. High tech shows will probably need to rent hardware from either the Union or an external company. If you are planning on anything more technical than a few washes, a couple of fixed spots and regular sound effects/recorded music, then you should be talking to StageSoc (or the Tech Liaison) as they will be able to tell you whether your ideas are feasible and how much they will cost.

Costume/Make-Up

This is another case of being completely dependent on the show. Costume will normally be the biggest spend but might not ammount to much - a contemporary show will often mainly have costume the cast already owns. The best idea is again to come up with a costume list and decided what will probably need buying and how much it will cost.

Programme Printing

If you are having programmes you must decide whether you want to print them professionally or if standard low grade paper is sufficient. If you plan to print professionally check who you are printing with but always remember that you will need to print at least as many programmes as you have budgeted for.

Sundry

This is a section for anything else. Common items are any food or drink needing to be consumed on stage but this is the place to put anything that you haven't mentioned yet. You should definitely describe anything you are putting in this section.

Other (in case of emergency)

This is your emergency fund. Always have at least £10 here. If you think there is a lot that could go wrong with your show put in more but otherwise £10 will do.

Cast & Team Show Deposit

Ignore this. Delete it if you want. No one should be expected to pay a deposit on their shows.

What to do if you're making a loss

If you are very far into the negative, then it might indicate you need to rethink your plan for your show. If you haven't budgeted for sponsorship then consider this. If it is not too much of a loss then have another look through your costs and reduce any items which you have been too liberal with. It can also be a good idea to find where you are going to source particular props/set so you can have a definitive cost for them (as this should always be less than your estimates). The other thing to do is increase the number of expected ticket sales or shift more sales to adult tickets away from student and performing arts - never exceed 40% capacity in the Annex and don't be unreasonable with the number of adults you will get but there is wiggle room.

In 2016, Theatre Group held a pitching workshop which was so helpful that we recorded it. It's a really useful watch if you are planning to pitch something with the perspectives of some very veteran Theatre Group members.