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About B,S Productions

(A self-indulgent but thoughtful essay by Steve Bailey)

"Nobody's ever going to let anybody make a movie. You have to go out and do it! And those who can figure out how to do it -- do it. And nothing can stop them."
-- Star Wars creator George Lucas

[Webmaster's Note: It works for plays, too.]

Have you ever written a story or script -- knowing it's as good as, if not better than, 90% of the drek out there -- only to come up against The System? We've all heard about the Hollywood System, but take it from me, it works on a local level, too. Local theaters will pat themselves on the back about how they try to encourage fresh, new, local talent -- but try submitting something to them some time. It's the theatrical equivalent of that cool high-school clique whose members thought you were too geeky to join.

In the summer of 2005, I was watching a DVD of the legendarily bad sci-film Plan Nine from Outer Space. Suddenly, my mind started shouting smart-alecky ripostes at my TV screen, as though I was at a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. After about an hour of this, I thought, "This stuff's too good to waste -- I gotta write it down."

I found a transcript of the film on-line, printed it out, and went to town parodying it. When I was finished, I again thought, "This is too good to waste." However, most of the theater heads in Jacksonville disagreed with me. I sent it to every local venue I could think of and barely got any response. Most of them were too busy mounting their umpteenth production of The Odd Couple or some public-domain play from the 18th century.

Only Boomtown Theatre -- an offbeat cabaret-type nightclub (sadly, now out of business) -- thought my parody-play of the movie was worth the while. Boomtown's Stephen Dare produced the play for eight performances in October, 2005, and thus, B,S [Bailey, Steven] Productions was born. (I went on to write and perform for a year in Boomtown's Thursday-night program "Pulp Fiction Theatre.")

Only one other theater -- Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre (ABET) -- has ever allowed me the use of their facilities (for one weekend in Halloween 2008, for my one-acter The Fairly Big Broadcast of 1937). Save for those two venues, the rest of the local theaters have been happy to stick their noses high in the air and tell me to move along.

I've since done two other plays, both due to the kindness of Leslie Lyne, who runs Neptune Beach Senior Activity Center. Leslie has had plenty of local theater experience and understands all too well the dejection of rejection. She let me put on my previous play Testing -- an autobiographical comedy about my teaching experiences -- in 2009, and is now allowing me to direct local writer Tom Hickman's play The President's Double for a May 2010 premiere.

Where would we be without the Leslies and the Boomtowns of the world? Still begging for a shot, that's where. After all of this play experience, I've attended two auditions directed by people who knew my local work well. Despite my repeated reservations, they encouraged me to audition for their plays -- only to have my auditions go like that scene in Mel Brooks' The Producers, where an auditioning singer barely gets one note of his mouth before the director yells, "Next!!"

Here's the moral of my story. If you think you have something that people will come to see, don't wait for somebody to let you produce it -- get out there and pound the pavement. Find a senior center, a warehouse, wherever. Put some notices in local publications and on blogs. Make your own flyers. Do anything you can think of to drum up interest in your work.

And those local theaters, which spend hundreds of dollars for rights to worn-to-the-stub, overworked plays while not thinking to spend a pittance on your work? Embarrass them by proving you can do it on your own, without having to charge $20 or $25 a head to let people in!

Because it ain't rocket science -- it's community theater! And if you have enough gumption, the community will give your theater work a chance!!

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