Tips for Better Communication Within Your Production

Jennifer Butler

There are a lot of things needed to make any show successful. You need the right people and the right tools. A great cast to put on the show and a great production team to make it all happen. However, above all, there needs to be communication. Good communication is a solid foundation for not only theatre but contributing success to a lot of things in life. Here are some tips to make sure communication is happening within your production.

Starting off, Make sure to be very clear when getting your point across. Details are important when talking to both the cast and the production team. The director has a vision for the show and he or she needs to communicate with all to make sure that everything comes together. This applies to both verbal and written communication.

The cast and production team should not be afraid to respond with questions if anything is unclear and making sure that they are responding to the emails in a timely manner. As part of the theatre company that I am with, we make sure that everyone knows that they need to let the SM Know that they received the rehearsal report and to acknowledge any notes that were meant for them. An unwritten rule of thumb for my theatre group is that the reply all button when responding to an email should be your best friend. 

This brings me to my second point and that is to make sure that everyone is on the same page. From top to bottom, from the producer and director to the costume designer and run crew. It helps to include everyone in every email so that when it comes time for a production meeting, someone is not completely lost. It might be helpful for the running crew to know about the set because, in the end, it's their job to move a set piece on the stage.

I know that for me, I volunteered to be running crew at the start of rehearsals and although it would be another 6-8 weeks before I was actually needed at rehearsals. I still appreciated getting the emails and being kept in the loop of things. It helped my anxiety and made things easier when I did finally meet everyone face to face. For being new, it was nice not being completely lost. 

I must say though, that nothing is ever guaranteed. That even with a breakdown in communication, a show can still be successful as long as everyone is doing their job. I have worked on several shows with different levels of communication and all the shows turned out to be sellouts and well-liked by the patrons. However good communication, when done correctly and effectively makes things a whole lot easier. 

Photo: Department of Theatre, Film and Television, Baird Lane, University of York