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Showcase Experiences

It Happened At Showcase!: Vol. 1



An Unanticipated Outcome at IPAY Showcase
The Experience of Simon Shaw


I first attended IPAY Showcase in Pittsburgh in 2010. I found a warm, welcoming, and supportive community and it quickly became my favorite performing arts conference. I was looking forward to Tampa in 2011, especially as one of the shows I represent, The Handsome Little Devils' Squirm Burpee Circus, was chosen to perform at Showcase. This is a real honor and we were all very excited, even though we were aware of the constraints Showcase would impose on the production: a drastically shortened load-in time, no haze machine, and a performance time limit of 60 minutes.


As I sat waiting for the performance to begin, I was dismayed to see that there were no children in the audience - a serious disadvantage for a show that relies heavily on audience participation. The powerful opening of the show was not as well received as usually happens. Worse was still to come! Unbeknownst to me, at the beginning of the show, a member of the cast decided to fire a little talcum powder out of the back of the wagon prop in an attempt to replicate the missing haze effect. The slick powder sent the cast slipping and sliding through their routines. Nothing seemed to be functioning correctly. The performance could not have gone much worse.


I sank into my seat, as I knew we were in the process of losing dates already penciled in, not to mention potential new bookings. Returning to the exhibition hall, my suspicions were validated when presenters with whom I have had very good relationships were walking past my booth with their eyes firmly glued to the floor. Finally, my very dear colleague and friend, Colleen Porter from Cleveland's Playhouse Square, came into the booth with Heather Spicuzza from the Ordway in St. Paul. Both had dates on hold for the company. We discussed the problems highlighted during the Showcase and agreed the show was 75% of the way there.


Then an amazing thing happened. Colleen asked if the company would be open to working with a new director. She said she might be able to find money in her budget to fund the work. I was not sure whether to laugh or cry! In 20 years of booking, I had never experienced a presenter offering to support a company with a direct investment. To say I was astounded would be an understatement.


The company was equally overwhelmed by Colleen's offer and agreed to work with a new director. Again, the IPAY community stepped up, this time with recommendations for a suitable director. One name, Coy Middlebrook, came up again and again. Coy came to see the show in Seattle, and we all agreed to work together. I am thrilled to report that Coy has just finished his first week of working with the Handsome Little Devils. Everyone is thrilled with the new direction and excited about putting it into practice.


Our experience could not have happened at any other performing arts conference. Without the support we received from the IPAY community the future of the production would have been uncertain. Now the Handsome Little Devils' Squirm Burpee Circus has an unquestionably promising and potentially amazing future.


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