How to Create a Program for Your Production
Show programs (also known as playbills) are the easiest way to share important production information with the audience. Programs are a method of acknowledging all the hard work done by the cast and crew to bring the production to life. They also make a nice souvenir for audience members after the show. Programs should be visually appealing, easy to read, and succinct, while including all the necessary personnel information and proper credits.
Programs can be as simple as a one-page flyer or as elaborate as a fully illustrated booklet. Programs can also be themed towards the production – for example, a production of Newsies might want to make their program look like a newspaper, while a production of Treasure Island might make their program look like a pirate’s treasure map – or in a completely different medium entirely, such as a display board, or even a digital program that patrons can access on their cell phones.
There are online resources for creating and printing programs, such as Playbillder, but teachers and students can also create a simple program themselves by using a computer program such as Word or Publisher.
In this exercise, students will create a traditional printed program for their actual upcoming production or class performance, or they can create a program for a fictitious production.
The program will be printed and submitted on a minimum of one standard sheet of 8.5” x 11” paper, folded in half (front cover, inside left cover, inside right cover, back cover). Additional pages are optional. The cover and any images or photographs should be in colour. Spelling and grammar definitely count!
What to include:
- Show title and graphic (for the cover)
- Show dates and times
- Location of performance
- Production credits (playwright/book writer, lyricist, composer, and any other important credits that were indicated when you purchased the rights to the show – these credits cannot be omitted!)
- Director’s note and/or brief summary of the show
- Cast list with actors’ names and role(s)
- There are many different ways of crediting the performers!
- Alphabetical by actor’s last name
- In order of appearance
- In order of speaking
- In groups (for example: “Kansas,” “Munchkinland,” “Forest,” “Oz” in The Wizard of Oz)
- Size of role (I try not to use this ordering method if I can help it, as it encourages a “leads are more important than the ensemble” mindset.)
- Whatever order you choose for crediting the performers, be sure to indicate this order underneath the “Cast” title, for ease of understanding.
- Crew list, including all artistic staff members (producer, director, musical director, choreographer), stage management team members, assistants, designers, operators, band/orchestra members, and additional crew members
- Special thanks to anyone who assisted with the production (such as rental sources, dramaturgical assistance, people or companies who donated items or services, financial sponsors, etc.)
Optional (include at least two):
- Cast and crew headshots and biographies
- Scene and/or song breakdown
- Principal’s message
- Advertising spaces or “good luck/break a leg” messages from friends and family (can be sold as a fundraiser)
- Additional photographs (cast, crew, performance photos)
- Blank page for autographs
- Advertising for an upcoming production or special event
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