Kickstarting a Creative Project

Nickolaus Hines

Ryan Marcone had on a short–sleeve button up blue shirt covered in big white stars. Putting meaning onto the stars on his shirt would be forward, but after a short meeting on the porch of Aroma Espresso, it’s hard not to believe in Marcone’s ambition.

Marcone graduated from University of Connecticut in 2014 with a double major in acting and English. The English for a literary perspective, the acting for his dreams, neither for high economic promise. 

He has kept busy since he graduated. He wrote a play about a group of boys stranded on an island called “The Island Boys” while working with a New Jersey Shakespeare company last summer, became a producer, registered his production company and cast the show. Marcone is vibrating with energy in way that made the iced coffee in front of him a questionable decision.

“I took the standpoint that if I want to be an actor in the city,” Marcone explained, “I’m going to have to write it myself.”

“And I’m about to get a theater company under my name,” he later continued. “That’s something I never thought I would be doing.”

The conservatory style of University of Connecticut focused on acting, so much of the process of producing a show is new to Marcone; including the business side. Marcone put up much of the initial money out of his own bank account and started a Kickstarter campaign for the rest.

In all, Marcone calculated it would cost $14,000 to rent a space, offer a bit of payment to the actors because he knows “non–union acting is basically like slave labor,” buy costumes, rehearsal space, playbills and advertising. He doesn’t expect to come out without a profit, but also not in the hole. After two weeks of an active Kickstarter, he had raised around $600.

He was offered a different venue that lowered the price point, and took the original Kickstarter down to reevaluate the costs. Then it was back to the Kickstarter drawing board.

“The Kickstarter funds are basically funding the whole project,” Marcone wrote in an email. “We’re looking to raise $6,500, which is ambitious, especially for a small cast and creative team like ours.” 

There are around 110 theater projects trying to raise funding through Kickstarter at any one time. Other crowdfunding sites, such as Indiegogo, specialize on creative projects, but Marcone found that Kickstarter gets more traffic. Like most of the steps Marcone has taken in the production of his play, he learned through doing. He likes to say that the right way to do something is “doing it as opposed to not doing it.” He took the lessons from the first Kickstarter experience and put them to use.

The stage is crowded when it comes to new plays, pardon the pun, but the field for creative expression is also more accessible now than ever. Even so, the artist life isn’t for everyone.

“It is difficult being a self–sustaining artist in New York City,” Marcone wrote in an email. “Even more difficult is creating and developing new work. Theater costs a lot to develop, and so people are sometime wary of supporting new work…For new work to be created, a whole community must believe in it, and that is what we are asking you, simply believe in something new!”

“The Island Boys” Kickstarter can be found at

OnStage will be following Marcone in a series of articles leading up to and including the premiere of “The Island Boys.” Follow along for first–hand insight into the play making process.