Dear West End Producer: ‘What are your press night dos and don’ts for a new graduate’s first show?’
What are your press night dos and don’ts for a new graduate opening their first show? x
— Tomi M’Baku Ogbaro (@ogbaro123) July 17, 2018
For the recent graduate, a press night holds numerous opportunities to make solid steps forward in their career. Not only does it give them the chance to make good contacts within the industry, but it is also the perfect place to parade around in their new shirt from Zara.
Press nights are glamorous affairs, where important people gulp warm wine and scoff mini burgers. The atmosphere is always positive, as people congratulate each other and chat about the importance of their ‘art’. And most importantly, everyone will have just seen you perform – making you the centre of attention. So don’t be shy, get out there and mingle, dear.
Of course, it may be slightly different if you’re doing a small-scale tour – in which case graduates will be lucky to get half a pint of ale and bag of nuts. If this is the case, you should attempt to get as much free stuff as possible. Undoubtedly you’ll be on less than Equity minimum, so use the press night to get something back. Free beer, free wine, free snacks, free anything. Sod it – if you can fit a table and chair into your bag, then do it.
However, if you’re starring in a West End show, then do your best to look nice. You’ll be hobnobbing with potential employers, so make sure they remember you. Walk around making sure to speak to as many people as possible. Begin by introducing yourself, natter briefly about the show, then quickly change the subject to something more interesting like Love Island. Then turn on the charm, laugh at their jokes, and slyly drop into conversation what your dream role would be. If you see them lose interest, suddenly proclaim that you went to Cambridge or Oxford and they will give you their full attention again, dear.
As a new graduate, you have a big advantage over everyone else: no reputation. So make sure you give yourself a positive one. Don’t stand in the corner updating your Facebook status. Get out there and make an impact.
When you speak to an agent, make sure you look exactly like your headshot. Stand still, hold your headshot pose, and try not to change your expression. This way they’ll remember who you are when you write to them the following day.
Here are a few more dos and don’ts:
• Pose for photos.
• Talk about how nice the rest of the cast are (even if you hate everyone).
• Eat the canapes.
• Get the director drunk, then make them promise to put you in their next show.
• Take your mum and dad.
• Say your performance ‘wasn’t as good tonight’.
• Leave early (stay to the bitter end to get gossip from drunk casting directors).
• Spend the entire evening trying to sleep with a member of the front of house team.
So have fun, make contacts, and enjoy the fact that everyone is there to support you, dear.
Send questions to your dear agony aunt via Twitter @westendproducer