What Can I Do In This Micro-Theatre Space?
August 9, 2018 5:32 PM   Subscribe

I have been put in charge of booking events into a micro-theatre space. Seating capacity of about 50. We already have some theatre productions that use the space, but we want to fill in some of the unused days on the calendar, especially weekdays. Bonus points for events that can repeat monthly...

Some ideas already on the table include:

- Showcase nights for people to sing Broadway show tunes, or even worship nights. Up to 6 hand-selected performers sing 2 tunes each with our accompanist. Have seen this work in other places.

- Singer/Songwriter nights, similar to the show tune showcases, but for original material. Other variation ideas on this theme welcome.

- An evening of theatre scenes, no set, using only acting blocks. (likely less often than monthly)

- Film festival of some sort. (likely less often than monthly)

Looking for suggestions, especially those already tried in other locations.
posted by skypieces to Media & Arts (32 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
A storytelling event (like this one)
posted by ChuraChura at 5:45 PM on August 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

Talent shows

Improv groups can come in and perform

Movie night (just a single movie, not a film festival)

Invite local film or animation students to show their projects

TedTalks inspired evenings with one person presenting on a topic

Art education nights: either local art students can put together a presentation of their work, and each talk about their process and inspiration or a local professor / curator can bring a presentation of historical or modern art and talk about it
posted by ananci at 5:46 PM on August 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Also dance performances by local groups (contemporary dance often requires minimal props / scenery)
posted by ananci at 5:47 PM on August 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

How about classes? Acting classes, improv classes, a "find your voice" singing workshop?

Poetry slams. Freestyle rap battles. If your stage is big enough to dance on: street dance classes/dance-offs.

Storytelling, as ChuraChura suggests, is a great idea.

Got a piano? Show old public-domain silent movies with live accompaniment.

Reach out to local university acting or music groups and tell them about your venue and your hire rates.

Does the neighbourhood have specific local ethnic communities? If so, reach out to them. Find their favourite forms of performance and storytelling.

What audience are you not reaching? Reach them.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:49 PM on August 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

Do you have projectors or screens suitable for presentation slides? Meetups where people are presenting talks on a topic to the group (tech is what i’m familiar with, but anything really) could use the space.
posted by cgg at 6:07 PM on August 9, 2018

Stand up comedy?

Tiny performances- invite a bunch of artists, say 20 people, to each do a tiny little piece, exactly one minute long (enforce the time with a bell).

Debaters- have a contest where pairs of people are given a topic to debate (funny is best) and then the crowd votes.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 6:12 PM on August 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Stand up comics are usually looking for a place to host open mics.

The drawback is that you tend to have to listen to a lot of open mic comedy.
posted by Comrade_robot at 6:14 PM on August 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

Really good size for a monthly comedy room.
posted by ELind at 6:23 PM on August 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Entrepreneur talks that have been tried in other locations: https://www.1millioncups.com/organize
posted by Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming at 6:29 PM on August 9, 2018

Dunno what your local podcasting scene is like, but I can tell you people here in L.A. have regularly tried to hold down a place to get together, talk shop, network, share pieces in development they need advice on/recently finished things they're proud of, etc. There are different variations on this idea in Boston, NYC, SF, Chicago, and elsewhere, but I can tell you that many folks jump at the chance to be social with one another in an incredibly insular art form (also cf., writers' groups).

Maybe hook up with a popular local podcast/public radio station to co-host / co-sponsor / co-brand a monthly podcasters' meetup? It can start out as an informal thing, but the needs of the community will shape it pretty quickly. All it takes is a good sound system and a bunch of seats.
posted by mykescipark at 6:37 PM on August 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Readings of new plays by local playwrights.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 6:38 PM on August 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Dance Dance Party Party!
posted by exceptinsects at 6:40 PM on August 9, 2018

One-minute play festival?
Ten-minute play festival?
24-hour play festival?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:05 PM on August 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Poetry readings, open mic or limited. (I know slams were suggested, but this is slightly different. In my experience, slams reward a specific kind of poetry.)
posted by FencingGal at 7:07 PM on August 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Are you only looking to book nights? If not, you could see if you could get a small church group to rent the space on Sunday mornings. They're reliable clients and don't tend to interfere with evening events.
posted by Weeping_angel at 8:04 PM on August 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

Depending on where you are and how cheap the rent is, you could probs get some bellydancers to show up there and have haflas (which are small dance shows).
posted by sperose at 8:32 PM on August 9, 2018

Toastmasters clubs meet weekdays.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:37 PM on August 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Battle of the Bands!
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:35 PM on August 9, 2018

I’m not clear from your post whether your theatrical scenes night is for new writing, but if not, it would be great to offer an opportunity for new/aspiring/upcoming writers to see their work on stage.

Village Pub Theatre runs a monthly script-in-hand night and it’s brilliant. You have a theme, and a pool of writers (or maybe to begin with it’s open submission while you build up your pool). Writers are invited to write to the theme, the first six who say they want to are in. You have a development night where the writers all meet to read their scripts aloud and give feedback, they then have maybe another week to go away and do rewrites before final submission. The actors are cast (mostly appearing in more than one scene) and directors appointed, and through the daytime on performance day, each scene gets an hour of rehearsal with the writer in attendance. They’re performed script in hand, so no line learning.

Scenes are about 10 minutes and it’s accepted that they’re rough and ready or might be experimental, some succeed better than others. VPT is lucky enough to have a pool of professional actors and directors who do it for free because they love it. The writers range from first timers to professionals who just love the format.

On the night, there’s home baking and a bar and the artistic director comperes.
You do really need an artistic director or producer because it takes a bit of organising, but it’s brilliant.
posted by penguin pie at 1:05 AM on August 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

AA meetings? (they pay rent for space, too)
posted by sexyrobot at 5:56 AM on August 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

How's the lighting? Maybe get a cheap greenscreen and rent the space to no-budget film & videomakers.

Drag show - 5 contestants, every show 2 get voted off & 3 continue to next month.

Got a local small music school or music teacher? Recitals.

Microcinema - find a local enthusiast to find, book & screen international short films & videos, esp. from underrepresented communities.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 6:31 AM on August 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

How are the acoustics? Could you record local musical groups performing before a live audience?

How about public lectures by interesting local professors, researchers, artists, and so on?

Could you set up a venue for town hall meetings with local politicians? Perhaps one person, for example the mayor, could appear regularly and talk about what is going on. Or perhaps you could set up a rotating schedule of city/county/state representatives.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 7:43 AM on August 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Is there someone in town who could offer classes in wine, cheese, coffee, or tea appreciation?
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 10:17 AM on August 10, 2018

How attractive or decoratable is the space? Maybe you could rent it out as a venue for small weddings?

when I'm fantasizing about the big dream house I'll have when I win the lottery, it always includes space for a tiny little private theater. This is a really fun question to read everybody's answers.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:46 AM on August 10, 2018

Rehearsal space for choirs? Maybe not, if there isn't a piano.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:49 AM on August 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Pecha Kucha Night. 20 images X 20 seconds per image. 6-8 presentations per event on a variety of topics. Like a haiku version of a TED talk.
posted by Joleta at 7:57 PM on August 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

If there's a way to set up an internet connection in the space you could run Jackbox party game nights.

A friend runs a experimental cabaret scratch night here in Melbourne where people can test run their new pieces and get feedback - it's pretty popular.

Parlour magic! (Larger than close up but not nearly as large as a conventional stage show)

Check out your local queer/PoC/disability/other minority scene and see if any of them are looking for homes for regular performance nights or events.
posted by divabat at 8:05 PM on August 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

Staged radio plays, a la The Thrilling Adventure Hour or L.A. Theater Works?
posted by platinum at 4:00 AM on August 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

When I lived in a city with a similar tiny theater, it hosted a Dr. Sketchy’s night once a month. The models were local performers (paid in drinks and tips) and a local DJ who worked with the theater a lot provided music. It was so much fun and I miss it. The same theater hosted other events like a monthly goth/kink night, so if this theater space would work for things like that and you can connect with alternative groups, DJs, etc., they might be glad to rent the space once a month.
posted by QuickedWeen at 5:04 PM on August 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yoga or medication classes.
posted by Kalatraz at 7:43 AM on August 12, 2018

Too late for this summer, but maybe a theater day camp for kids.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:48 AM on August 12, 2018

The same theater hosted other events like a monthly goth/kink night
Is there a local BDSM community that could use the theatre for play or demonstration events? Is the fly space amenable to suspension play?
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 11:51 AM on August 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

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