This is my first blog for this site. At the moment I am in pre-production for my play Scenes from 68* Years which is at the Arcola Theatre from 6-30 April.
I'm looking forward to writing here about the process of page to stage, and page to publication, but as I'm redrafting ahead of first rehearsal on Monday I'm idea rich but time poor... so I thought I'd repost two pieces from my personal blog - Hannykha's Listography. I posted them last May during and after a crowdfunding campaign to help money for this play. I hope you find them interesting.
My play Scenes from 68* Years (about life under occupation in Palestine) is due to go on at the Arcola in Dalston, London in April next year. Sandpit Productions are producing and we will be applying to the Arts Council for funding. What some of you who don’t work in theatre may not know is that with most ‘fringe’ theatres even when they select your work over all the thousands of other brilliant things they get approached with, you (the writer or producer or producing company) still have to hire the theatre. Pay for it.
In order to cover the initial ‘theatre hire’ cost (a deposit effectively), my producers Sandpit decided to undertake a crowdfunding campaign. It’s something I felt very uncomfortable about. But in our meeting with ACE it was clear they ‘approve’ of crowdfunding because it ‘builds audience’.
So 27 days into our 40 day crowdfunding campaign here’s three things I’ve learned.
1. Poor = Generous: I sent the link for the campaign to lots of people with this request:
“My darling friends who are cash poor but goodwill rich, please forward to anyone you know who is rich on both counts”
A very smart playwright I know responded:
“please remember that cash poor people actually give MORE than the rich! (And that is a fact, in terms of the percentage of what a person has).”
And you know what – she was right. Everyone who has given so far (and at time of writing we are at 57% of our target) has been an artist, an actor, writer, director or some other creative person. At first this made me feel REALLY REALLY BAD. People who I love and whose work I respect and who I will be asking to pay to come and see the show, and who are not millionaires, are giving their money to help fund a play I’ve written. I felt guilty. But then slowly I started to feel amazing. Part of a community of other artists and it made me feel happy and joyous and blessed. Really.
2. There is no faceless donor: I was keen to know when the rich philanthropists out there would start giving to the campaign. So I googled ‘life span of a crowdfunding campaign’ and other similar thing – nothing. And as I said in point 1 thus far it’s all people who know me or a member of the team who have been giving. So your campaign gets a donation when you give it a mention or a nod. It’s that simple.
3. I like to GIVE: The most amazing thing I’ve discovered about crowdfunding is that it has made me MORE generous. Don’t get me wrong – I’m no Scrooge but knowing lots of people (35 to date) are putting their hands in their pockets to fund my campaign has made me want to help others. And actually that’s an WONDERFUL feeling.
So I’ve recently given to this, and this, and this and this….
Three more things I learned about Crowdfunding
Well it’s done, the crowdfunding push for my play Scenes from 68* Years. And not only did we make our target – we exceeded it.
I’m hugely relieved and grateful to all the 69 amazing people who contributed. They make me feel positive and like things are possible when we help one another. As athank you for making me smile here’s something that is bound to make you smile – the gorgeous Jude Edriss singing Here Comes the Sun as featured in Swivel Theatre’s production of my monologue Worst Cook in the West Bank: https://youtu.be/r_NfSIjSdOU
And further to my Three Things I learned about Crowdfunding blog I’ve another three insights to share:
1. Don’t panic: I freaked out half way through the 40 days that we weren’t going to hit our target – there’s a definite lull in the middle of the campaign – with peaks at the start and end (as long as you make sure you tell people!)
2. Personal is best: Personal emails work better than round robins you won’t be surprised to hear, but also give a bit of yourself – when we hit 85% as a thank you I posted an album of pictures of my 1987 family trip to Palestine (seemed relevant as the play we are funding for is about Palestine) – and it got loads of hits and created a buzz.
3. It really does make you more generous: As I said in my last blog, it’s hard to ask the people you love to support your work, but not only does it give you a warm glow it makes you more generous and that generosity lasts and lasts it seems – I’ve recently given to a sponsored swim for Evelina children’s hospital, a walk in aid of Cancer Research, and to help a little Gazan boy get medical treatment.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget everyone’s generosity and support, and I can’t wait to see you all in the audience when the show is on in April 2016. And a special thank you to my producer Alia Alzougbi for her patience and Jumaan Short for her wise words.