Flavia Fraser-Cannon juggles a lot of different roles: she's a producer, promoter and publicist. She tells us how she got started in the theatre world, and why knowing the right people still matters...
A great producer needs to be logical and good at time management. It helps if you’re someone who makes lists. You have to be able to prioritise and to think on your feet, because things will suddenly change. It’s essential to stay calm and manage any problem as quickly as possible.
Right now I’m producing the tour of Sweeney Todd: His Life, Times and Execution by Finger in the Pie. I’m also booking a tour for Third Man Productions’ play Stalag Happy. These are both shows that did very well at the Edinburgh Festival in 2009 and we’re taking them out on the road. We got Arts Council funding, which is an amazing helping hand. Sweeney Todd is taking up most of my time at the moment because I cover the marketing, the press, the general management and the producing. I have to keep on top of the technical team, liaise with venues, make sure publicity goes out and so on. I took a 23kg parcel of flyers to the post office yesterday!
I spent time in various busy production offices when I was doing my Stage One Apprenticeship in 2006. Stage One is run by the Society of London Theatre and it’s about getting new commercial producers started. They offer several schemes; I took the apprenticeship option, which is a £15,000 bursary that offers the opportunity to work in several West End producers’ offices as an assistant/intern for a year. Having a varied experience early on gave me an insight into what it takes to make theatre happen. I worked for Mark Rubinstein, who produces La Clique, and the tasks were incredibly different day-to-day – from sourcing giant balloons and making sure the acts were settled in their accommodation to buying first night presents and writing invoices.
I produce The Miniaturists – a series of short plays – at the Arcola Theatre, which has been going for five years now. I also promote comedy, and I’ve recently been involved with Theatre Delicatessen. Their work is very raw and fresh, and because of the nature of “pop up theatre”, it’s able to respond quickly. They are planning an event in response to the budget cuts – I’m excited about that.
My advice for any budding producer would be to get experience in all areas of theatre. It’s a big machine and if you want to be the manager of a big machine, you need to understand how it works and how the various different cogs interact with each other. Apprenticeships and work experience are a great way to learn. You get to see established methods and common mistakes, and meet people. I’m afraid it is sometimes about who you know.
When I’m working on a project, I love taking care of my team and making sure everyone walks away with a smile on their face. That’s my favourite part of this job. As a young producer you often have to work for very little financial reward, so you have to love it.
Flavia Fraser-Cannon was talking to Effie Woods.
For more information about Flavia’s work, go to her website.
Image courtesy of Alex Brenner.