Producing a Show 101


By: Meaghan McGurgan

Questions we are often asked go usually like this...
Newbie: "I have this idea for a show! Can you give me advice on how I can do it?"
Me: "Well, it takes money, patience and hard work."
Newbie: "Is there like a website with all the answers?"
Me: "Well, no... Just book your venue, pay for your rights, cast your show, rehearse it, sell tickets, put it on."
Newbie: "But how do you do that?!"
Oy... *facepalm*

So for all the newbies that have been asking for my advice on how to do a show, here is a basic and let me stress that again, BASIC, step by step plan on what you should do to run a successful show in Hong Kong. There are no guarentees in the arts. Part of a show is good marketing and how well you are connected. Sometimes the best shows don't sell out strictly because people don't know how good the show is. Sometimes really crappy shows sell out due to star power. Such is the belly of the beast!

Two Years Ahead
*If you are wanting to use the HKAPA facilities or the JCCAC you need to book now, seriously. They told us they are booked two years in advance.

One Year Ahead
*Booking for government theatres is recommended one year in advance for non-profits. Especially, if you're wanting an extended run.
*Applications for the Arts Development Council grants are done twice a year around December and June.

6 Months Ahead
*Apply for the rights and royalties to your script if needed. (Especially if it's a musical). Also order the scripts at the same time. You legally cannot book your venue, hold auditions or accept any money for pre-sales until your rights have been obtained.
*You must have booked your venue by this time. Anything after 6 months in a government facility is considered a "late" booking and you will pay more.
*Hold auditions for major roles that require rehearsals 2-3 times per week.
*Start looking for sponsors, especially a rehearsal space sponsor.
*Hire major design staff and have your first design meeting: Director, Lights, Costume, Set, Props, Stage Manager, etc. Have a concept meeting to talk about budget to make sure everyone is on the same page. Money should be your number one priority as a producer. Sometimes you will have to have someone that is doing two jobs at the same time or you'll find a Director who likes to design most of the show themselves and work with a construction team a la Robert Wilson.

3 Months Ahead
*Hold auditions for minor roles that require roles 1 time per week.
*Last minute venue booking, seriously. If you don't have one by this time, PANIC!
*Rehearsals should have already begun.
*Start pre-sales on tickets.

2 Months Ahead
*If in an URBTIX or HK Ticketing venue they have to approve your flyer.
*Costume fittings, if tailored costumes are to be made.
*All orders for sets should have been placed.

1 Month Ahead
*All Designs should be completely finalized and approved
*Actors should have had first complete run through (no stopping)
*Program should have had first proofing
*Sponsors should have been aquired
*Press releases to all major news sources
* All deposits should be cleared with major providers

2 Weeks Ahead
*Confirm press releases have been received
*Working Tech Script should be in the hands of SM
*Sound Designer should hand over music at this point (if possible) for approval and loading onto whatever app the SM will use
*SM should start coming to rehearsals
*Actors should be offbook and should start using props/rehearsal costumes as needed
*Problem Runs (to iron out rough spots)
*Meeting with venue to finalize all the load in/out times. Lighting Designer should be present for gel and instrument requests. Stage Manager should also be present to liason with venue on any other needs of the design crew.
*Program is sent to the printers 10 days before opening night.

1 Week Ahead
*Radio interview (if possible)
*Tech Week
*Paper Tech with crew only. Should be done over dinner to finalize all cues. Saves you time in the venue and you can bond as a group.
*Tech Run for Designers (without stopping)
*Cue to Cue in the space
*Make up/Hair tests- if needed
*Scene change dry run- if needed
*Wet Tech/First Dress
*Final Dress

Opening Night
Have fun! Invite the press to get the word out on your fabulous show! The show is now in the hands of the Stage Manager!


  • JO
    03 July 2014

  • Meaghan
    03 July 2014

    That's a great question Jo. Many of the venues in HK require different booking procedures. It really depends if you're wanting a government supported house, independant theatre or a non-traditional venue.
    All LCSD venues can be booked by a form you can download via their website. You give them 3 dates options and the venue of your choice. You will need to put down a pretty sizeable deposit for these venues (between 15K-50K depending on the space and number of performances.) you will also have to have the rights for the show already secured. Independant venues like the APA and Theatre Horizon have their own websites, you can find them on our site at the where tab. Their booking deposits vary per space. Non-traditional venues are cheaper and will take cuts of the door. I've found these spaces are best dealt with in person. A smile and a handshake goes a long way.

    Let me know if you have anymore questions!

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