When you listened to WFYL1180 AM’s (www.1180wfyl.com) “From Bullets To Broadway, The Anatomy of A Broadway Show, featuring Emergency the Musical” this past weekend, you must have been excited to hear Producer Ken Davenport’s interview www.BroadwayBullets.com. Both “Bullets” and “Un-Block The Music” mention Ken often. Not only is he the Foys’ mentor for Emergency, he is a Tony-Award winning producer(Once On This Island, Kinky Boots) and entrepreneur whose innovations and enthusiasm is catapulting theater forward. After the broadcast, I chatted with Ken and the Foys a little further.
Advice “Un-Block The Music” received as a writer in my early days, is make sure you have a Plan B just in case you don’t succeed as a writer. That is exaggerated even further by those that don’t understand theater. Radio host Sgt. Dan McCaughan always goes back to the fact that Jeff and Jacob Foy are from Indiana with absolutely no theater experience, but yet, they have two shows ready to be staged in New York. How can you make this happen even if you are working your Plan B job? The Foys prove that you can. Remember, Jeff is an Emergency Room doctor and Jacob a college student.
Ken said you just have to take small steps to create a show. “I will give you an example. I have had an idea for a play that has kicked around my head for probably 5 years. And, I know it’s a good idea. I recently asked myself, ‘why can’t I spit this thing out?’ It’s because it’s hard, it’s challenging and I have to find the time while I’m doing 17 other things.” During quarantine, Ken took his own advice.
“You don’t have to find 8 hours or 4 hours a day, and you shouldn’t because you will burn yourself out. My play will be about 60 pages. If I write 2 pages a day for a month, it will be done. It takes me 20 minutes a day at the most. I just type, type, type. I don’t care if it is good or if its bad right now.” You have to put down that first draft. That’s what TheaterMakers studio is about. Free for a month, it’s one-part training, one-part accountability, and one-part community. (https://theatermakersstudio.com/)
If the quarantine has taught us anything, we can write from anywhere, but Ken said, at some point you have to come to New York City which “is the center of the theatrical world. You should be here a few times a year to soak it all up. And, the people that come here and make it a regular part of what they do, which is what the Inner Circle was designed to do, end up achieving their goals faster. It’s no coincidence that the Foys had a show in New York and had two scheduled for this year and were also members of the Inner Circle. (The previous episode of “From Bullets To Broadway” focused on the Inner Circle– https://unblockthemusic.blog/2020/05/18/humans-need-humans-story-of-emergency-hits-home-more-than-ever/)
Jeff said, “We took Ken’s advice to heart. You really need to get to New York as much as possible. You see the layout of theater there and start making tracks and connections. The Inner Circle has taken us to New York about 5 times a year.”
“There is something about the City,” Jacob said. “It changes your whole perspective. It inspires you. I would say that we were 70 percent more productive when were in the City.” Jeff agrees. “When I saw billboards in Times Square, I thought, I want to see Emergency and One Night Only up there. We were driven to do more.” One Night Only, which had been scheduled to hit The Players Theatre in NYC this summer has been rescheduled for next summer at the same theater. Emergency is likely to see a 2022 debut, according to Jeff.
If Jeff the musical theater doctor alone doesn’t get you excited about this show, consider the fact that one half of this writing duo is young!!! An underlying theme in “Un Block The Music’s” last couple of stories, has been age. (https://unblockthemusic.blog/2020/05/28/women-wednesdays-what-do-tina-turner-chelsea-clinton-angela-sclafani-have-in-common-macy-schmidt/. While it can be even more intimidating to become part of the theater world when you are young, there are mentors that will help. You have to be aggressive. During the radio broadcast, Ken emphasized how Jacob, who was still in high school when he first met him, was one of the attractions to working with Emergency. “The younger you are when you start the process, the quicker you will become successful,” he said.
On the list of things to consider, of course, is the big worry of money! Don’t let that stop you, said Ken. “It costs a lot of money when you are starting any business. You want to create an APP? It costs money. You want to build a restaurant? It costs money. Everything costs money.” Festivals can help. Emergency was part of The New York Theater Festival last summer. While that particular festival is defunct, there are others including the Rave Festival which was created by Ken last year. This year’s event was scheduled for July 24 through August 9, so dates for 2020 are up in the air right now. However, Ken explained, festivals are a fantastic opportunity for writers to get a show produced and get it produced in NYC for a lesser cost than they would have to spend if they are going to do it on their own.
“You can produce a show on a sidewalk! If you want to produce a show, it’s about being resourceful and creative and being passionate enough to figure out how to get this done. I saw that the number of festivals was decreasing and I wanted to have one, so people like the Foys will have their chance. Festivals are a big part of the film industry and they are just as important for emerging writers in the theater,” Ken said.
If you need more inspiration to get started on your show, check out Ken’s daily livestreams which began in March. Every night at 8 PM EDT, he has a superstar TheaterMaker join him for a brief chat about how they are doing, what they are doing, and what tips they have for you on getting through, and eventually, getting back to making theater! Tonight’s guest will be playwright and actor, John Cariani (https://www.theproducersperspective.com/live).
As for the quarantine, on Ken’s second live Broadcast, Steven Schwartz said “as difficult as this time is, you have to think about it as a gift and you have to spin it on its head…a gift for us to do new things.”
And if you want more inspiration, and you missed the May 30th episode of “From Bullets To Broadway,” there will be a rebroadcast this Saturday, June 6th at noon. In the meantime, if you have any questions, you can send them to Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org or me at email@example.com. If your question is read on the air, you will get an Emergency T-shirt, so please include your size and address in the email.