At Perfect Pitch we have two primary aims:
1) Providing a national infrastructure of partners and mentors to assist writers in the development of their work.
2) Create a long-term life for each of the musicals within our network and in turn bring the names of lesser known and emerging writers to a wider audience for a sustained period of time.
How we work:
2012 saw the beginning of Perfect Pitch as an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation meaning we receive partial funding for a three year period - between 2012-2015 we receive approx. £100,000 each year. Whilst this seems to be a handsome sum it is actually a very small amount to cover the on-going development and promotion of the 15+ shows alongside the day to day running costs of the organisation. One basic 5 day workshop requiring an average of 8 performers, MD, Director, rehearsal space, travel expenses, admin costs and little else will usually average at around £4-5000.
To help us to be working on over 15 shows at present rather than just 1 or 2 a year we partner with training establishments e.g. The Musical Theatre Academy and Arts Educational who are able to offer workshop space and / or performers for little or no cost to us for workshops that suit this kind of environment. Also in addition to employing actors for readings and workshops at every new draft we have more ‘creative meetings’ where we, the writers and our associate director will read through a recent draft together and chat through feedback and re-writes etc. Only after a few of these meetings when we feel the piece is ready to benefit from a student or professional workshop will we move on to that stage of development.
In line with our policy of promoting a long-term life for our shows we have also begun producing cast recordings/concept albums and set up a licensing arm of Perfect Pitch for both amateur and professional licenses.
The new way of developing and promoting that we have been shaping since early 2012 does seem to be working and on our NETWORK SHOWS page you'll find details on all the 15 shows currently in the network, our involvement to date and what is happening with them at the moment.
Since launching our licensing catalogue we have had several shows from within our network signed up for independent productions both here in the UK and in the US.
FLIPPED OUT! and PIECES OF STRING have been optioned by producers and are being developed in partnership with us ahead of professional productions.
In the amateur world SEX AND THE VILLAGE received a large scale premiere production by Bury St Edmunds Amateur Dramatic Society in November 2013' and LIA’S GUIDE TO WINNING THE LOTTERY, FROM UP HERE, IN TOUCH and DANGEROUS DAUGHTERS have each had multiple productions at Drama colleges and universities. FROM UP HERE was also streamed live from its premiere production at South Hill Park to just under 2000 on-line viewers.
'following its premiere at the Soho Theatre in February 2013 LIFT has been licensed for further productions including an off-Broadway production in November 2013. LIFT exemplifies the achievements we have made so far – an unknown title by two unknown writers, not based on any known source material, succeeded in attracting two independent producers and a renowned off-west end venue to give the show a fantastic opportunity for its premiere production – and it is by no means a ‘safe’ musical, a rather complex concept and an edgy, innovative musical score and yet ticket sales soared in support for something so fresh and new.
Not everyone will like all of our shows. Many of the shows will not be perfect even when fully developed as we are working with unknown musical theatre writers developing their craft in a country that has little or no infrastructure to help them to do so and we as a company are not big enough, or naïve enough, to believe this is something we can do single-handedly. But we do hope that more of you know more of these writers’ names because of us. We hope the writers’ who work with us will continue to write more musicals, gaining the valuable experience to craft each one better than the last. And we also believe the premiere productions you see of shows from our network will be the first of many future productions whether professional, student or on the amateur circuit and will not be the end of the road for yet another new British musical.
When we began, back in 2006, we simply requested submissions of new and innovative new musicals that we promised to showcase to an industry audience. The writers agreed to cast, rehearse and ‘produce’ their own shows within the showcase, whilst we provided the venue, design and marketing. We produced the Perfect Pitch showcase in this manner for two years presenting 22 shows in total of various standards. Both showcases were exceptionally well attended by industry, producers, venues etc. but it became apparent that the best response we could receive was “That show has real potential, let us know if/when something further is happening to it” but nobody would take the financial risk on these embryonic pieces to take them to the next stage themselves and we had no infrastructure in place at that time to take any shows beyond the showcase.
In 2008 and 2009 we held two further showcases, with fewer shows, at Trafalgar Studios. We fully produced each individual showcase ourselves and had the beginnings of a development network in place and a small ACE grant for 2009 – 2010 that enabled some of the shows to have a nominal amount of development / workshopping prior to the 2009 showcase. All the above led to a higher quality of showcase and individual show but generally the response was still the same from the producers that attended “Great potential, would be interested to see the ‘next stage. “
The four showcases from 2006 – 2009 were funded entirely from trusts, foundations and private donations and Perfect Pitch received no funding from ACE towards them. The 2009/2010 project funding was for workshops and development only and not for commercial / ticketed events. A small amount of sponsorship money from individuals and organisations together with any profits received from ticket sales assisted in covering costs for admin, marketing, rehearsal venues and cast/creatives expenses etc. but for all the initial showcases the performers, creative teams and the Perfect Pitch team worked for expenses only.
In many ways it was easy enough to provide a “one-off showcase” or even a short run of a production on the fringe but we realised what was really necessary to progress and improve new British musical theatre was to find a way of connecting with the producers and venues who are able to take the shows on to full production and finding how we can work with them to create longer term existence for the new work.
So in 2010 we still had ACE project funding for ‘developing new work’ and instead of just continuing to showcase to no avail we concentrated on expanding and putting the Perfect Pitch network in place and some exciting partnerships and developments began their journeys.
West Yorkshire Playhouse and Royal and Derngate, Northampton were already aware of The Go-Between by Richard Taylor and David Wood when they attended our 50 minute presentation of Act 1 in the 2009 showcase. West Yorkshire Playhouse had shown interest in producing the show but felt it needed further workshopping and development which they were unable to provide and the show had been dormant for a few years. After our showcase they were encouraged by the first act (which we had workshopped in partnership with Arts Educational Schools before the showcase). It was then suggested that WYP, R and D and Derby Live would consider a co-production of the show if they could see a workshop of the second act. Perfect Pitch were able to provide the resources for Roger Haines (director), Richard and David to work on the second act of the show and present it to the venues, (in a rehearsal room with no production values other than minimal props). This presentation was enough for the three venues to begin setting up the co-production which took place in the autumn the following year receiving a positive response from both audience and critics. It was nominated for Best Regional Production at the Whatsonstage.com awards and won the Theatre UK Award (previously TMA awards) for Best Musical Production. It has since been optioned by two West End Producers.
The Go-Between, whilst an encouraging ‘success’ story also indicated to us the amount of development and workshops a show really needs to reach its maximum potential as whilst we only needed to offer the show three workshops and the showcase we received the show already some way down the development line as it had been ’growing’ for a few years already so whilst we helped them find a concept for the show we were primarily helping them bridge the gap between having a potentially good show on paper and seeing it realised in a full professional production. The Go-Between was also based on existing source material and adapted by an incredibly experienced writer David Wood. Composer Richard Taylor also already had a number of successful professional commissions and productions under his belt. Many of the other shows that we have taken into the network since 2010 have been at the very beginning of their journey, often with less experienced writers and requiring far more time and resources. So along with our NPO status that began in 2012 we also have begun to find a new way of running our organisation to maximise output from minimal funding and give as many shows as possible the chance for a longer term existance in turn growing new audiences for both the writing and the writers.