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Postby HerrHerr » August 19th, 2007, 4:37 pm

There's just no consistency when it comes to manning the shows and casting them.

Staffing. Directing. Casting.

STAFFING:

We don't have a regular house manager and we don't typically have an usher help out with ticket taking, crowd control, etc... Overselling kills the beginning of the show. Directors running around finding extra chairs frustrates them. The show starts late. The audience has to wait too long. The show either runs long or suffers in its time crunch. What is the system to make sure overselling and understaffing does not happen? Just asking any random person on the forum to step in and help out iwith house-manaing or ticket-selling is so unprofessional that it makes me wanna pull my friggin' hair out. What do we want? Laize-faire attitudes or professionalism? Seriously. We keep just getting by and being satisfied b/c we sell out shows.

DIRECTING:

It's nice that so many people want to direct, but I think that getting really solid at directing comes from doing it repeatedly--just like getting comfortable performing improv. Doing it every couple of months (I am guilty of this) does not a good director make, nor does just playing Maestro regularly. Micetro directing workshop? Fewer directors taking on more shows?

CASTING:

We don't have a system in place for casting that is consistent. Back in the day when I started, everyone who wanted to play submitted their availability for each month and shows were cast in month blocks. You knew when you were playing and when you had to do tech or host or, yes, even run the scoreboard. An entire grid of who was doing what and when was laid out.

Now, with different directors each week, different ways of casting come into play with different criteria for how players are cast.
Back in my day, more newer improvisors played. It seems like more and more old school players want to play. I could be wrong, but it feels like fewer new people are given the chance to play. How do we get a cast each week that is has a strong mix of new, intermediate and advanced players? If you've finished all three levels of improv (or five at Coldtowne) then Micetro is the show that gets you on stage as a newbie. Maybe now that new troupes form weeks or months after graduations, people don't feel so inclined to play Maestro.

.......

At one time, directors were each paid $20 for directing. I think directors should be paid. How much? I don't know. And I think a Directing workshop should take place, say, every quarter (?)

I don't know what the overall answer is or how to find solutions, except to form some Maestro committee or something and do an overhaul of the system.
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Postby bradisntclever » August 19th, 2007, 5:28 pm

As far as staffing is concerned, I plan to hold on to the title of Saturday House Manager for quite a while. As with most jobs, there will be some nights when I am unable to work (I will be out on the 25th and on ACL weekend), but I try my best to find capable, experienced people to fill my shoes while I'm out.

Staffing is something that can't be treated lightly. It sucks to beg for volunteers on a weekly basis and most of the time I man the box for both the 8 PM show and Maestro. One weekend, I did box and tech for both shows, mainly because nobody was willing to volunteer. I enjoy my job and want to give back to the Hideout as much as I've received over the last year or so, but it's extremely hard for things to run smoothly on a casual, unstable foundation.

Wes' proposal in another thread is quite interesting and something worth looking into. Obviously, others will need to chime in, especially the theatre manager.

We definitely need a ticket taker. It's possible for the box office worker to do both, but only if that person can beat the masses up the stairs (which could occur only for sold out shows).

I don't understand the problem with overselling and am making that my main focus over the next month. Unless we specify it on the website (which we don't), we can't resell seats to walk-ups if they were already purchased online by people who don't show up on time. Under no circumstances should more than 49 seats be sold. If the person working box can follow both guidelines WHILE a ticket taker can make sure nobody gets in without a ticket, there should not be a problem in the future.
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Postby Wesley » August 19th, 2007, 6:56 pm

What is the system to make sure overselling and understaffing does not happen?

Overselling should be easy to control.
There is a sheet in the box office (or at least there used to be) with a number of slots representing the number of seats available. When you sell one, you check it off (or write in the amount paid or whatever). When all the slots are marked off, no more tickets should be sold. At the beginning of the night we block off two seats for the director and highlight the reserved number for online tickets sold, then sell the rest.


Unless we specify it on the website (which we don't), we can't resell seats to walk-ups if they were already purchased online by people who don't show up on time.

We should specify it on the website then. Steal the text and follow the example of Out of Bounds:
"Purchasing a ticket online gives you a paid reservation. Your ticket will be held at the box office until 10 minutes before show time, when all tickets will be released and anyone on a waiting list will have the option to buy your ticket."
This is fairly common in a number of theaters and it would encourage people to start showing up to shows not only on time, but early.
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Postby bradisntclever » August 19th, 2007, 9:15 pm

Wesley wrote:We should specify it on the website then.


I agree 100%, I just have no control over that policymaking decision. I wanted to clarify that in the status quo, we really can't resell those seats. Hopefully, we'll be able to change that rule one day.
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Postby beardedlamb » August 19th, 2007, 10:17 pm

don't worry about status quo. take initiative and train people. put it in writing. we have a problem that is effecting the entire show, so immediate action is the best action.

and the casting of the shows is not consistent, fair, or even logical. it's headed to a clique system where only certain people can play through the usual channel. check the forums on tuesday, beg to be cast, check the forums on thursday. some improvisers don't use the forums. let's not forget this. we need to avoid creating a 'popular crowd' mentality.

we just gotta make the guy who technically runs the show to put some policies in place and stick to them.
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Postby Wesley » August 19th, 2007, 10:33 pm

I agree 100%, I just have no control over that policymaking decision.

Yeah, though this isn't and AIC show and therefore doesn't require a lot of discussion. It is a Hideout show and the Hideout peeps (Andy and/or Sean) just need to think about it and make a policy on both the reselling fo online tickets and the solution to the staffing issue.
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Re: Micetro

Postby acrouch » August 24th, 2007, 8:37 pm

annwilson wrote:I know no one is "blaming" anyone. But the truth is I can only do better next time, and learn from my mistakes.


I blame Ann!
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Postby acrouch » August 24th, 2007, 8:40 pm

beardedlamb wrote:don't worry about status quo. take initiative and train people. put it in writing. we have a problem that is effecting the entire show, so immediate action is the best action.

and the casting of the shows is not consistent, fair, or even logical. it's headed to a clique system where only certain people can play through the usual channel. check the forums on tuesday, beg to be cast, check the forums on thursday. some improvisers don't use the forums. let's not forget this. we need to avoid creating a 'popular crowd' mentality.

we just gotta make the guy who technically runs the show to put some policies in place and stick to them.


Hey, that's me!

For the record, I send out an email almost every week to every improviser I have in my database inviting them to play maestro and regularly solicit updates to this.

I'm coming back with some Maestro energy from San Francisco, so everybody be careful what you wish for. : )
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Postby Justin D. » August 24th, 2007, 10:26 pm

I've never understood why shows oversell.

There's a set number of seats. After that number of tickets is sold, including the tickets purchased online, don't sell anymore tickets.

Why is it more complicated than that?

If it's too hard for someone to keep count of the tickets that are sold as people buy them, someone needs to buy a number clicker. The closest thing I can find to this is called a chick clicker. It's a lame name, but shows what I mean. I think they sell these at golf shops too. Click that as each person buys a ticket and stop when the number reaches 49. Seems pretty simple to me.

As for reselling tickets if people who bought their tickets show up late, I'm highly against that. Instead, instill a rule like most theaters that offer plays have. Shut the doors and don't allow new people in ten minutes after the show begins. If someone shows up late who already bought tickets, give them a comp for another show. They've already paid, so there's no reason to make them miss a show even if they arrived too late for that night's performance. Put a notice on the website and a reminder in the confirmation email informing the buyer that the doors shut ten minutes after show opening, and they will not be allowed in after that. It might even be a good idea to have the person working box tell the ticket buyers that the doors shut ten minutes after the performance begins.

These are all simple rules that people can enforce easily. Plus, this gives shows an air of professionalism they deserve. While only certain people can do anything about what the website or confirmation emails say, anyone who works box can act on this.

Selling out a show is awesome and encourages people to buy tickets earlier the next time. Overselling a show comes across as lack of care and tends to piss people off (audience and cast members alike).
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Postby bradisntclever » August 24th, 2007, 10:49 pm

Justin Davis wrote:I've never understood why shows oversell.

There's a set number of seats. After that number of tickets is sold, including the tickets purchased online, don't sell anymore tickets.

Why is it more complicated than that?

If it's too hard for someone to keep count of the tickets that are sold as people buy them, someone needs to buy a number clicker.


That's a great idea, but I've handcounted out 49 tickets before for Maestros and the person working box has managed to oversell on three separate occasions, even after I provided a list of who all had purchased online tickets and how many they bought.

I still think a ticket taker is more important than people realize. It keeps free riders out of the way (which might be a slight problem at best) and it keeps improvisers in check from grabbing open seats until the appropriate time.
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Postby Wesley » August 24th, 2007, 11:16 pm

Justin Davis wrote:Instead, instill a rule like most theaters that offer plays have. Shut the doors and don't allow new people in ten minutes after the show begins. If someone shows up late who already bought tickets, give them a comp for another show. They've already paid, so there's no reason to make them miss a show even if they arrived too late for that night's performance. ... Plus, this gives shows an air of professionalism they deserve.


Here, here. Comps are a fine way to go. we don't have to "double sell" the tickets per se, we just "release" them at 10 till to be bought by someone else if there is a demand and if the person shows you give them a free ticket compt to another show. You only double sell when the never show up at all.

As for professionalism, if we don't take ourselves seriously we can't expect an audience that will either. By starting shows late, overselling houses, etc, we're telling them right up front, before anyone sets foot on the stage, that we don't take the show seriously ourselves, why should anyone else?
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Postby kbadr » August 24th, 2007, 11:31 pm

You want see show?
You get ticket.
Period.
You want get in show?
You give ticket to person at top of stairs.

End of problem.


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Postby Justin D. » August 24th, 2007, 11:50 pm

kbadr wrote:You want see show?
You get ticket.
Period.
You want get in show?
You give ticket to person at top of stairs.

End of problem.


Boiled down to its most simple idea, yes, that's exactly all the audience needs to do. We have to do just a bit more than sell ticket/take ticket to ensure there's a seat for the ticket holder. Not much more, but more.

Our ability to create problems never ceases to amaze me.


It's not our ability to create problems as much as it is refusing to use the simple solutions discussed and available that confuses me.
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Postby sara farr » August 25th, 2007, 9:02 am

All of this leads back to the staffing issue. If you have a regular staff of imps who are trained, you won't have this problem.

A great Micetro needs:

1- Paid house manager
1- Box office volunteer
1- Tickettaker volunteer
1- Sound imp volunteer
1- Light imp volunteer
2- Director volunteers
12- Cast member volunteers
49- Paying audience members

No more, no less. Notice how many of these people are volunteers????? Where is the incentive? Offer incentives.

Heroes of Comedy... cast your entire show staff.
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Postby Wesley » August 25th, 2007, 9:16 am

Justin Davis wrote:
kbadr wrote:Our ability to create problems never ceases to amaze me.


It's not our ability to create problems as much as it is refusing to use the simple solutions discussed and available that confuses me.


It's neither. It's our ability to spot a problem, discuss how to fix it, adopt a plan, and then either fail to implement the plan, allow the problem to re-emerge through not following the plan fully (and making little exceptions constantly), having made a plan tht isn't actually practical and any objective observer would recognize as mere feelgoodism or showboating, or just deciding randomly to redisscuss the problem at length again anyway.

The sliding scale issue was solved. Seeing shows for free was solved. All of these issues were solved. There simply is no need to rediscuss them. Just a need for some leadership on making the decisions stick and disseminating what those decisions were to the community...or else I guarantee we'll be having this same discussion agian in 6 months.

It's never been our ability to create problems that has amazed me. It's our inability to follow up on solutions.
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