Friday, 6 February 2009

How to Produce Your Own Theatre Show by John Pyka

How to Produce your Own theatre show is a very good example of self publishing. For 25 US Dollars you will receive a PDF emailed to your inbox immediately! This PDF is 27 pages of information written by Mr. Pyka and an additional 6 pages of Press Releases, Contracts, Riders, etc. Followed by 3 pages of ads for Mr. Pyka's other books and booking opportunities.
Reading this PDF I was very excited to get to know some of the real gritty details of working a theatre show, but I didn't receive any of those. Instead I got a lot of common knowledge to any theatre enthusiast. This book lacks the type of depth and clarity I would love to see in a book on producing theatre shows. Don't get me wrong, there are a handful of wonderful insights in this PDF but surely the price and the information could have been a bit more balanced. This 'Book' is shorter than many sets of lecture notes. Those lecture notes might cost between 10-20 dollars tops. Also we are greeted with a lot of spelling and grammatical errors. For 25 dollars, and 26 pages of information, there shouldn't be any errors, spelling or otherwise.
Much of the book is made up of definitions, explanations for some common theatre terms, stages types, etc.
What a black box theatre is like, how a thrust stage changes your performance and choice of material. All information that could be readily obtained with a few google searches or a coffee with an actor. Quite honestly, I am disappointed. Very disappointed. While I don't question Mr Pyka's ability to put on a spectacular show, lecture, etc. I do question his ability to release a PDF with such a high price tag for the information you would be receiving.
I can not recommend this book, but I can point you towards another. For more information regarding touring with a show and the agent/producer/talent buyer relationship please see this book: Booking Performance Tours: Marketing and Acquiring Live Arts and Entertainment it is under 20 dollars and many more pages than 26 with a very extensive appendix section containing riders, contracts, and other forms for all stages of the booking process. Also for those new to theatre, take a look at This Book for under 15 dollars.
For those who would like to read Mr Pyka's book you can find it here for 25 dollars. You've been warned!


  1. Huh. One bad review out of 100s. I'll take that. What Milton has not told you is that this e-book is not intended to be a nitty gritty in depth examination. It is meant to be a guide, bite sized peices for MAGICIANS who want to try their hand at the theater market, but do not have the first clue as to where to start.
    This e-book will give you that. It will steer you in the right directions, won't overwhelm you, and won't send you on a wild goose chase. That is worth far more than $25.

  2. Just my honest to goodness thoughts John. If you'd like to question anything in my review please email me and we discuss it.

  3. I actually have bought "How to Produce your Own Theatre Show". I am a magician who has produced my own shows (some very successful, and some not so successful).

    John is correct, it is not an in depth nitty gritty guide to producing shows. But I certainly gained a few new perspectives from the book.

    I also agree with Milton, much of the info is basic for a "theater person". And there was not a lot of depth in the book. I do think that someone looking at producing their first show will gain some insights from this.

    Was the info new and revolutionary? no. Was it worth $25 to me? Yes. It was an interesting read, I did gain some different insights into producing shows.

    When you have an idea it helps to bounce those ideas and concepts off of someone else. Johns book allowed me to do that. I had ideas, and I read his thoughts on the subject.

    The bits that I currently use from the book:
    There is a small section on casting your show that I now use to hire assistants or dancers.

    I liked his timeline (this is part of the book that I compared my own ideas with Johns to come up with my own timeline). The timeline outlines: rehersals, media campaign, publicity, marketing, sales, and show day.

    I really liked Johns philosophy on ticket pricing! This to me was worth the price of the book. Basically, he tells you not to sell yourself short by charging too little. This is backed by a story. If you are contemplating doing a show (either yourself, or your magic club), this one section should not be missed.

    Funding your show. This is where the info on 2-walling and 4-walling comes into play. Again, the info is basic for theatrical producers - but maybe not so basic for someone starting out producing their own show.

    John touches very lightly on producing shows in a hotel. I am currently working on a project like this now. I am using a paragraph from the book to base my proposal from. If the deal goes through, I have John to thank just for "planting a seed" in my head.

    Samples of press releases. The book has a few samples in it. Many magicians do not know how to write press releases. Or what they should look like. The book gives you a sample of this. I collect press in my swipe file for ideas later.

    John also gives a sample of a great poster. I have adapted his idea to my show material.

    Just like a magic book, if you pay a hundred dollars for the book, and get one usable "worker" routine - the book is worth it.

    John's book gave me a few workable ideas and concepts and things to think about - the book is worth it to me.

    I guess I felt pretty strong about the book - my comment is longer than the review ;)

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