This one is about the importance of getting the right message to the right people.
When my most recent full-length play, Encanta, premiered in the summer of 2015, I had six weeks to get people to come to a show that happened on a weeknight. It’s tough to do that if you’re not on Broadway.
On top of this, I already had a lot on my plate hiring cast and crew, booking rehearsal space, finding props, and polishing the script as the actors brought it to life.
The budget was tight, so I didn’t have money to throw at obstacles. Opening night was coming soon, so I didn’t have time to sit on my thumbs and hope someone noticed me. What I had were a passion for this project, storytelling, and connections to tons of people starved for representation. They constantly talked about how much they wanted and needed to see more people of color in fantasy, more romantic LGBT stories, and more substantial roles for women.
So, I went to where they were. I told them how Encanta quenches their thirst for the kinds of stories they wanted to see. I started with the people who were already familiar with me and would let people know what I was doing and why they were excited about it. Then, I branched out to others.
Opening night. I was nothing but nerves. I was nervous about the play being any good. I was nervous about people showing up to see it. I was nervous about not staying over the allotted time I had. Then, when the door opened, people started coming in. Not just my friends. People I never met. Many didn’t see plays regularly because they believed none of it was for them.
As showtime came closer, the guy who ran the venue said, “Guess what? You sold out. Do you want an extra performance date?”
I couldn’t believe it. I’d expected only ten people to come see Encanta, including myself. But there were no more seats. Not even for me, and I wrote and paid for everything. I had to stand in the back in a place where I could barely see to experience Encanta for the first time. I’d never been so happy to be forced to stand up.