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Actors being asked to sell program ads

Printed From: Community Theater Green Room
Category: Producing Theater
Forum Name: Acting
Forum Discription: Q&A about auditions, character development and other aspects of the craft
Printed Date: 6/22/24 at 12:11pm
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 8.05 -

Topic: Actors being asked to sell program ads
Posted By: Patrilla
Subject: Actors being asked to sell program ads
Date Posted: 2/04/07 at 9:17am
Hi :
Just been informed kinda late in the game that everybody in our cast is expected to sell $100 each in ads for the program. I've never worked with this community theater before and never heard of anything like this--is this typical?

Posted By: Linda S
Date Posted: 2/04/07 at 12:34pm
I am not sure if it is typical, but I have heard of it. Do I agree with it? No. Actors do enough without doing the producer's and theater board's work.  I direct for 3 theaters and none of them ask the cast to sell ads, but they all let the performers know that they can buy ads if they like. Lots of cast members have businesses or belong to organizations that like to take out ads. One theater lets the family and friends of the casts members buy good luck ads. It is kinda cute especially when they do a children's show.
By the way, what happens if you don't sell ads?

Posted By: Patrilla
Date Posted: 2/04/07 at 2:51pm
I didn't ask what happens if we don't do it. 

Posted By: TheActingTechie
Date Posted: 2/14/07 at 7:54pm
A highschool in my state apparently told every cast member for the musical that they could either pay an upfront fee of about 250 dollars I believe, or sell that much in ad space.  They were doing Thoroughly Modern Millie, which apparently is an espensive show, and didn't have quite the funds.


Posted By: falstaff29
Date Posted: 3/19/07 at 11:48pm
That's not cool.  I think it's fine to ask cast to try and sell adspace, but don't impose any penalties on them if they don't.

Posted By: theatrejunki
Date Posted: 3/20/07 at 9:11pm

Our theatre company offers what we call "Break-a-Legs" to our cast and crew.  It's ad space in our program for well wishes from family or friends.  It makes a few bucks but certainly doesn't pay for anything substaintial.  If they can't afford to produce a show without forcing thier VOLUNTEERS to help pay the bills prehaps they should rethink doing the show.

Theatre is like a virus, once you get it you can't get rid of it." Robin Boisseau
Jennifer Dove
Stage Left Theatre Company
Medina, Ohio

Posted By: eveharrington
Date Posted: 3/20/07 at 11:33pm
have a fundraiser, I'm an actor not a salesperson and cast and crew certainly have enough to worry about without being responsible for things that should be handled by the board.

"If nothing else, there's applause... like waves of love pouring over the footlights."

Posted By: Kibitzer
Date Posted: 3/21/07 at 11:24am

Iím going to take a little different approach to this issue, but first, let me say that I donít agree with requiring actors Ė or anyone else for that matter Ė to raise funds in any manner for a production.  But hereís where I may get in a bit of trouble with a lot of people:  I do think actors Ė and anyone else involved with a show for that matter Ė need to be far more involved with the financial and organizational viability of their show and the theatre they are involved with.  This goes back to my premise that the very essence and nature of community theatre is embodied by the declaration:  ďHey, kids, letís put on a show!Ē  I want to focus on the contraction letís.  Let us put on a show. 

Okay, I was going to try to avoid it, but Iíll just go ahead and say it:  thereís no ďIĒ in us. 

There are way too many participants, especially actors, in community theatre who behave much like prima donna athletes:  itís all about me.  Without me, there wouldnít be any show.  You know what, without the theatre, there wouldnít be any show, either! 

Iím going to go on a little tangent, here, and get real basic.  The great British director Peter Brook wrote a book many years ago entitled, The Empty Space.  His premise was this:  A person enters an empty space and takes an action.  Another person witnesses that action.  An act of theatre has just taken place.  If Iím doing street theatre, which Iíve done, I have met Mr. Brookís requirements:  a street corner (the space, which may or may not be empty), a person taking an action on the street corner (an actor), and passersby stopping to watch the action (an audience).  In this most basic of theatrical presentation, as an actor, I am the entire theatre.  Except for someone to look at what Iím doing (no matter how fleeting that attention may be), I donít need anything from anyone and no one needs anything from me, except any talent I may have to give.

If Iím a professional actor, then I want to get paid for my talents.  On the street setting, payment may be passing the hat (which Iíve also done).  In a professional theatre, thereís a defined contractual arrangement:  I donít have to do anything else but provide my talents at the times and locations specified by the contract and in exchange, I get a paycheck.  Where the money comes from is none of my concern. 

But weíre talking about community theatre and in community theatre, where the resources come from is everyoneís concern.  Indeed, all three elements are everyoneís concern:  the actors, the performance space, and the audience.  There may be one person or a committee of people whose primary responsibility is to attend to one of those elements, but we must all lend support to as many of those areas as we have time and talent to do so.  Too often, community theatre management (whether thatís paid staff or boards of directors) gets way too frustrated over the lack of support from participants, so they try to put into effect a lousy policy, like a requirement that all cast members sell ads. 

In a separate topic on these boards there is a discussion about the importance of theatre and show leadership saying thank you to participants.  What this is about is the importance of participants supporting the organization that feeds their passion.  We must always remember that community theatre is a two-way street. 

"Security is a kind of death." - Tennessee Williams

Posted By: eveharrington
Date Posted: 3/21/07 at 1:42pm
Ok, I guess I failed to mention, I'm an actor but I am also on the board of my local CT and currently directing a show even though there is nothing I would rather do less than direct. I agree that people need to contribute and give more than just their presence on stage. I just don't agree that forcing them to sell ad space is the way to do it. When we put on a show the whole cast and people that aren't even in the show turn out to build the set and usher and sell tickets and do props and every other thing we need done. However selling ad space is a particular skill that not many people are going to posess and I think fundraising needs to be centrally handled or else it can become a huge mess real fast.

"If nothing else, there's applause... like waves of love pouring over the footlights."

Posted By: Juror #3
Date Posted: 4/02/07 at 1:34pm
I don't think this is common by any stretch of the imagination.  Someone might think it is a clever way to get ads, but I think it is an imposition on people who are already donating a significant amount of time.  Selling ads is something that should be done by someone else.  Why would the group sells ads separately for each show program.  We sell them for the season, and they are sold before the season begins so that they are in place for the first show.
Note to Kibitzer's comment:  I have never heard of anyone defining the actor's role beyond the stage.  While it may seem logical for actors to take a more active role in the theatre's financial situation, I don't think it is logical to assume that all actors can or will.  Some of our actors come to us for certain shows or certain types of shows.  Some of them travel fairly significant distances to do that (one woman had an hour's drive one way); some of them have family and/or job commitments that require them to pick and choose shows to audition for.  Many others in our theatre seem to spend all of their waking hours at the playhouse doing one thing or another, working on every show as well as being active in the running of the playhouse in general.  I think people do what they can; I have seen very few people "taking" all and "giving" little, so until someone can come up with a fair, balanced and equal formula which asks everyone to participate in multi-roles with the playhouse(s) they are involved in, I will argue that actors should not be required or pressured into doing more than they have taken on in accepting a role in a show.

Juror #3

Posted By: avcastner
Date Posted: 4/11/07 at 11:30pm
As a high school teacher, our drama program has to survive on ticket sales and program ads.  I've never had much luck with fundraising--we usually lose money or work for 10 hours to earn 50 bucks.  I would rather work a second job for $20 an hour and donate it than waste my time with "fundraising." 
We usually have a set fee to participate in the program, as it is considered an after-school class--just like a karate class or music class.  To avoid paying the fee, the students may "fund-raise" by selling a set number of tickets to offset the cost of the fee.  Most students like the opportunity to sell tickets to pay for the expenses instead of trying to sell candy bars or wash cars.  Selling tickets fills the seats and helps people to see that we aren't the "average high school theatre program."
We tried selling ads in the program, but it just didn't work.  We got three ads for $30 bucks, and it really wasn't worth the effort.  I might try the "break-a-legs" in the future, though.


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