Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

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Week 5

Monday, June 30, 2014 9:36 pm

This week I’m going to stick to the prompt a bit more as I haven’t done anything revolutionary in the past week. I’ve just done a lot more research on sponsors and sent out press releases and emails to various businesses in the area. Nothing too exciting.

The culture of the company is pretty laid back. There are three directors, a managing director, producing director and artistic director. However, the managing and producing directors completely run the show. They generally make decisions between themselves and inform everyone else of what is going to happen. People work in “teams” for each show and each part of the show that they are involved with in the way that theatres usually work. There are the cast, crew, directors and managers, and then me! The intern. I only work with the producing director and he gives me projects each week to work on. It’s a little hard to keep in touch with him because he also works in the shop, building and designing sets, but this allows me to take responsibility and have freedom to work in and around my own schedule.

Tomorrow I’ll be manning a table at the Children’s Museum as the rock band for our next show is going to be playing and trying to gather some interest. Hope everyone is having a great summer!

-Nina O.

Week Four: More Marketing, Fantastic Endeavour and Closing Five Row

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 5:57 pm

Last week I finally settled into a groove. Fantastic Endeavour opened at a local library and performed for a very…. unresponsive crowd. However, the energy was up and the actors felt great about the first run.We closedFive Row at Reynolda House and the last show was sold out. I got a lot better at welcoming people, taking tickets and convincing people to sign up for the email list- no small feat. I also had a couple meetings with my boss to discuss how the second half of the internship would go and we planned more marketing projects. Then, in celebration of closingFive Row, we had a pool party at one of our sponsor’s houses.

It looks like our matching campaign is dead in the water, as most banks have been declining to support us. My next task is getting the word out to as many local businesses as I can think of to sponsor us or to buy ad space in our programs. I made a list of more than 65 local businesses who we think would be good to reach out to and my next task is to try to connect us with local TV stations and perhaps have them do a feature on the company. I have already connected us with Camel City Dispatch and hope we will have a feature on our next two shows on their online blog.

I am most proud of being able to adapt in this quickly changing environment. Often, I’ve had to do things at a moment’s notice and that has been a little difficult. And sometimes my boss is so busy with creating sets, strike, and planning for such a small theatre that he has to delegate tasks to me without fully telling me how they should be executed and it is up to me to find that out. This is definitely helping me grow and become much more comfortable with business phone calls and emails. I hope that by the end of the internship I will be able to know how to help a small business, like Peppercorn Children’s Theatre, learn how to attract sponsors and keep them, as well as learn how to juggle and balance all that goes into managing a small nonprofit, started and run by friends.

 

-Nina O.

Week Three: Five Row at Reynolda House

Monday, June 16, 2014 3:01 am

This week with Peppercorn Children’s Theatre, things really picked up. I did a lot more work on figuring out how to make our matching campaign happen. During this process of calling local banks practically everyday, I found out how hard it is to get a real person on the phone. The automated menus are designed to get you off the phone before you can reach a teller, I swear! Because of the business hours of the banks and rehearsals for Fantastic Endeavour, which opens this coming week, I wasn’t able to finalize anything yet, but next week we hope to lock some things down since we finally found out who to contact and how to contact them. It took awhile though, because even when I got people on the phone, many of them gave me the run-around and most of the marketing people don’t answer or respond to messages. After calling every day though, I finally figured out how to get a live person on the phone and to have them connect me with the marketing department. It was tough, but I’m getting better at making business phone calls.

The end of the week my job was to hand out programs and man the merchandise table at our production of Five Row at Reynolda House. The playwright, Harry Poster, did research using oral histories from the Reynolda Museum and wrote a play about the interaction of children living on both sides of the class and race divide based on his research. Five Row was the community of African Americans who lived near Reynolda House and worked on the estate. Our opening show on Friday morning, we had descendants of the families depicted in the play attend and there was a talkback after; many people in the audience were moved. This first show was our only sold out show of the weekend.

aerial view of the Five Row set. this is during the talkback.

After the show Friday, there were two shows Saturday and one Sunday. We also had rehearsal for Fantastic Endeavour tonight and a pizza party to unwind after such long days. Next week, Fantasic Endeavour opens and we begin touring all ten of the public libraries in Forsyth County.

Til next time!

Nina O.

Week Two, A Tad Late

Tuesday, June 10, 2014 10:43 pm

Last week with Peppercorn was awesome! We have nearly finished blocking our show, got our logo finalized and added music. Several artists brought in their instruments (synthesizers, guitars, keyboards) and we worked to create original sound effects and music for Fantastic Endeavour. I’ve learned a lot about creating a show on a low budget, especially a show that is traveling and has to be able to fit into many different locations. Whereas, the other shows Peppercorn is producing are going to continually be held in the same venue, our show will be in different locations every time. Our set is a thin blue sheet, which we use with a regular projector behind it (like the kind from elementary school) to do some fun shadow play, handmade footlights made from milk jugs and three chairs.

 

In assisting with wrapping up the final bits of the show, my main job this week was doing research. I did some more background research on Mae Jemison, watched her TED Talk on merging the arts and sciences. I looked up a few other small things that we wanted to represent but didn’t know how, such as how astronauts get strapped into the space shuttle before they go. It’s a lot more complicated than I thought. I also began some fundraising work.

 

 

Because Peppercorn is a nonprofit, and a small one, they have to work hard to be able to cover their expenses for the summer. My boss and I are working on launching a matching campaign with one of the local banks, where for every 25 cents a child donates to Peppercorn, they match it with the same amount. Our goal is to raise $5,000. To help with this, I’ve been making calls to local banks and finding out about how to make this happen through connecting with their marketing teams. We are also trying to think of a catchy name, and ways to keep parents donating as well as children.

 

 

We hope to have everything polished and ready for presentation soon because our first show is next Tuesday. We’ve been tweaking constantly in rehearsal and I know everything will go smoothly this week as well.

 

-Nina O.

Week 1: Pepper On!

Friday, May 30, 2014 11:43 pm

Hello friends!

I’ve just completed my first week as an intern with Peppercorn Children’s Theatre in Winston Salem. It’s been a busy week, and I’ve just started delving into the projects I’ll be working on this summer. We started the week off with a Memorial Day cookout to meet and greet most of the people we’d be working with. It seems like there will be an open and accepting work environment, as well as a strong sense of connection and collaboration to propel us through the summer. The nature of my position as “intern” is doing any and everything to help the Managing Director and Producing Director.

Peppercorn Family Selfie

My first long term project is assistant directing a play written by the Producing Director, called “Fantasic Endeavour.” It’s a play about the first black astronaut to go into space. This is a traveling show, which will be performed in several libraries and venues all around Winston Salem and surrounding communities throughout the month of June.We’ve just started devising the piece this week in evening rehearsals. My job is to take notes, add ideas and manage the actors’ equity breaks. Since I’m fairly new to theatre, I’m jumping in and learning as I go, which is exciting and a little nerve wracking, don’t wanna make any mistakes! I’ve also been doing some follow up research and fact checking for the play.

When not in rehearsals this week, I ran errands for the Producing Director, picking up flyers and dropping them off at various elementary schools. I’ve also been learning about how to write press releases, with a little help from “The PR Style Guide” by Barbara Diggs-Brown, as I’ll be working on several of them for our four shows.

The last thing I worked on this week was working on writing up little synopses of our summer plays to submit to parenting blog sites so we get some more exposure for a good turnout at each of the plays. I’m learning that exposure is key, and we have to do most of the footwork ourselves to make sure that Peppercorn becomes known and supported throughout the Winston Salem community; it’s only in it’s fourth season.

So far, I’m off to a good start. I’ll keep you all posted. Happy summer!

 

-Nina O.

 

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