In This Article
Struggling to produce a play on a budget? Let Adrian Quarles, an experienced and resourceful playwright, poet, and formerly homeless individual show you how it’s done! In this inspiring podcast conversation with Tiffany Grant, Adrian provides invaluable tips for getting your theatrical production off the ground without breaking the bank.
Learn how to identify your target audience, get liability insurance, save money for financing the play, make a budget list, and book venues through Google and word of mouth – all while staying within your resources.
Tune in now to find out more about Adrian’s experience with producing plays during the pandemic and gain insight into his philosophy of having a ‘thrift store mentality!’
About Our Guest
Adrian Dion Quarles is an Artist of multiple platforms from Shelby, NC. He has acted in 38 plays, including TIME which he wrote, produced, directed, and acted in September 2019.
He has also released three hip-hop mixtapes and is an educator for Guilford County Schools. He’s currently the host and creator of ADQ’S RENAISSANCE podcast, in which he aims to connect all black artists of all platforms.
Connect with Adrian
Resources & Links
Visit our website: https://moneytalkwitht.com
Previous episode: Overcoming Homelessness & Mental Health with Adrian Quarles
Intro/Outro: You know what it is, that’s right. It’s time to talk money with your money, nerd and financial coach. Now tighten those purse strings and open those ears. It’s the Money Talk with Tiff podcast.
Tiffany Grant: Hey, everyone. Today, I have Adrian Carls on the line. Now, if the name. Sounds familiar. It should, because he was on the podcast, what, three years ago now back in 2020.
And in that episode, we talked about overcoming homelessness and his journey, how we met, you know, all types of stuff. So go back and listen to that episode. Cause it’s really inspiring matter of fact, Adrian, I meant to tell you this before we went on, but I. gave that episode to a few people that were experiencing homelessness and they were like it was so Impactful and so helpful for them.
So I appreciate you and I just wanted to let you know
Adrian Quarles: Thank you for telling me that my head just got bigger and I just gained a few more gray hairs cuz I feel wise now
Tiffany Grant: You are very wise. So, how are you doing today?
Adrian Quarles: I’m doing I am doing wonderful, you know I’m doing wonderful and the words that you have just sent my way, uh, uh, uh, uh, the words you just sent my way have Increased, enhanced my wonderful feelings.
So thank you for that, Tiffany. You have granted me greatness in the midst of my quarrels. And this, see what I just did there. I see what you just
Tiffany Grant: did there. So by the way, y’all Adrian, he is a playwright and a poet. So he’s very crafty with his words. Right. So, but for the purposes of this episode though, I want to get into, cause in the last episode we talked about how you were producing plays even in the midst of the pandemic.
Um, you did some virtual plays, you did it in person play, but I wanted to talk about how you were able to pull these off on a shoestring budget. Um, so if somebody is listening to us right now and they’re like, Oh my gosh, I want to get my story out there on the stage. But I don’t have the money to do. So, uh, what are some tips and things that you did to make sure your, uh, production got out there?
Adrian Quarles: right. Well, um, I promise you, I’m not going, I’ll try my best not to give the long answer, but kind of like the mid, well, it won’t be mid, but nah, pretty much. Um, first of all. Um, I’m going to reference a name that a lot of us know, Tyler Perry. I looked at how he went from sleeping in his car, being homeless, and making different sacrifices to funding, uh, the Madea plays that we’ve all come to know and some love, some despise, but you know, they were good.
Um, and then I would, and then I would see people like, uh, James Lyons, like Tamika Allen and others doing it more on a local level. So, so first you had there, first you have, um, that you had the inspiration of actually seeing people doing it. And then, um, and then I went by, I went with my growing, uh, theatrical Theatrical, um, repertoire, uh, resume, uh, experience.
And while, um, and while growing like my theatrical resume, I would have conversations about, uh, what it takes to put up a play with like, I remember once having a conversation with a man by the name of Norman Ussery, who just passed away not a couple of weeks ago, rest in peace to him. And I would. I was just like pay attention to some of the budget talks that were going on between the directors and the stage managers.
And so, and so then I would like, I would like pay attention to the commentary about Tyler Perry’s, um, about how he put the, about how he produced his works. And one, one common out, one common trait with all of his plays is they all had a target audience. So First thing first is you want to have a target audience.
You know what I’m saying? Like if I was, if I were to try and present like a super Afro centric, Afro futuristic play to kind of like a super conservative, super conservative, uh, rural, a population, I probably won’t get that much turnout. You know what I’m saying? But if I were to like present it to, um, to a wide generational, uh, HBCU, black church, uh, even black mosque.
Audience. I’ll probably get, I’ll probably get a good turnout depending on how I market it. So that’s the first thing. Know, you got to know your audience. Second thing, find ways to find ways to, uh, save money to finance it. Like, yo, I got a friend by the name of, uh, Keisha, a dope actress, dope poet. Uh, she told, she said on my podcast, ADQs Renaissance.
She’s on my podcast, how she took a paper route to finance her play. What fairytale, right? So you, so, and Tiffany, you, you decide, you decide hustle queen, right? You have to have a side hustle along with your main hustle in order to finance it. Because don’t be out there looking for producers. I would say be your own producer because what does it take to produce stuff money.
Take your month, uh, get a side, get a side gig, stack your paper. Like when I was like, when I was putting together time, I was like making payments. I was taking my paper and making payments. Right. And, uh, make sure, and by the way, make sure you get liability insurance. You want to make sure that if someone, like if a roach, like if a roach was to fall on someone’s face, you know, that, that liability take care of.
Or else that will bite you in your behind. Um, Not a
Tiffany Grant: roach on the face though. That was
Adrian Quarles: the most random thing I could think of.
Tiffany Grant: Not a stub your toe. Trip on the stage.
Adrian Quarles: Some of these theaters have roaches in them. You know what I’m saying? It’s crazy. It’s like, yo, roach, do you want a part in the play?
Otherwise get away or else I’ll kill you.
Tiffany Grant: Oh, that is funny. Okay, keep going.
Adrian Quarles: Sorry. That’s alright, that’s alright, that’s alright. So, um, make sure to have your paper stacked up, you know what I’m saying? I would say to be on safe side, stack one, a stack, two stacks, three stacks, because not only do you want to find that and be able to finance, um, the presentation of your play, the marketing of it.
The liability insurance. You also want to pay your actors because I promise you if you pay your actors, they will have a deeper incentive incentive to give a performance that will continue. That would draw people right back to your play. It’s something about, it’s something about them, uh, dead slave owners on that green paper that motivates people.
It makes them feel very much appreciated. So that’s one. So, and you will make sure you should make sure to do that. Make sure that your actors, those who are working up under you and working for you and working with you feel appreciated. Now, while budget now, also while budgeting, making the budget, you need to make a budget, make a list of things that are going to cost money and how much they do cost.
Because, you know, there are people who would be willing to promote your work on a podcast and a radio and on the radio station and on their web show or whatever. And yet there’s also people who, you know, you got to like go the payola route to pay to get something or advertisement on or advertisement, uh, in a major newspaper or a major or a major podcast or radio show.
Someone will do it for free. Just be friendly. Someone would do it. You know, someone do it only if you, only if you make, only if you pay. Right. Um, I will also say among the budget, look at, look at how much you have to, how much you have to actually spend on the play. Like, do you need these a hundred dollar props or can you get it or can you get it with a even lower.
Uh, lower amount like, um, I recently directed a play called here’s fluffy for the evening short plays, uh, downtown and, um, I was about to buy a 24 gas. I mean, 24. I mean, 12, uh, um, uh, can of antifreeze because it fit within the play. But then I thought, how about we see if somebody might have an empty one laying around?
And actually I had a friend in Winston who did and he got it and he got it to the theater for me. That’s how you cut, that’s how you cut costs. You find ways to cut costs and try to present, make the most minimal, minimalistic, uh, presentation possible. Like, um, I was, I think that the most expensive play ever on Broadway is Spiderman After Dark, right?
It bombed. They did not make back the money that they spent on it. So find ways to cut costs. But I would say more than any, the most important, I have all of that most important of all that pay your actors, pay your actors, because it’d be actors who really, uh, sell your play.
Tiffany Grant: Gotcha. Gotcha. You, you dropped so many.
I’m like, where do I want to start first? I didn’t mean to say all
Adrian Quarles: that. I’m sorry. You got me on the roll, yo.
Tiffany Grant: No, I love it. I love it because I didn’t even think, you know, just that little tidbit of, Oh, I need an antifreeze container instead of buying one. Cause people don’t know if it’s full or not. Let me just see if somebody has one sitting around, which I think I have one in my garage right now.
So it’s like, you know, Just thinking about those little money saving hacks, I think that’s just genius. And I also wanted to hit on, um, how you were saying that, you know, cut your costs up as far as expenses are concerned, but make sure you pay your act. As a creator, I’m like, yes, please pay your people
Yes, absolutely. Because if you take care of them, they will take care of you. And so I’m glad that you brought that up as well. And then I also wanted to go, uh, talk about like venues, right? So how does that work? Like if I have a play that I’m trying to put on? ’cause I’m not privy to anything in this realm.
Adrian Quarles: I have a question. Yes. You’re sorry. Yes, you’re, go ahead.
Tiffany Grant: Wait, wait, wait. Let’s stay there too. Hold on, hold on, hold on. Okay, okay, okay. Alright, with you saying that, how do you see that I am in this world? I’m just curious now. Okay,
Adrian Quarles: so here’s how. First of all, Tiffany, um, I can tell that you have an affinity for the arts.
Second of all, you’re a speaker, right? Not only that, but you’re a podcaster, so, you know, you’re a podcaster, you’re a speaker. So, um, you have been in, you have had to fill up rooms or built or, or auditoriums filled with people to listen to you talk, um, espouse your, um, your, your finance, your economic expertise, right?
What is theater other than telling a story or distributing a certain narrative to a number of people? Right? That is what you are doing. You are giving, you are distributing a certain narrative that helps people think about life. That’s what theater does. Good theater. Anyway. Um, it helps people think about life.
People are looking at you. They are tuned into you, you and all your greatness. And they are watching you talk about your talk about the wisdom that you have attained through your, uh, hills and valleys of financial management over the years. And they are watching you, right? That’s what that’s what theater is.
Theater is people, uh, giving their heels and giving the hills and valleys of the character in the particular story and, and, uh, being affected and being affected one way or another.
Tiffany Grant: Yeah, I love that. I love that. See, okay now you have me thinking about it different You are a performance
Adrian Quarles: artist. That’s what you are doing is performance artists.
Yeah, you’re probably saying they’re saying Well, you want to budget this and you want to look at your 401k in like three in like 30 years this day and the third Yes, but you are putting thoughts in a particular narrative into the minds, hearts, and souls of those who are tuned in. That’s why people love Tyler Perry’s plays because a lot of them were Christian based and they were putting that particular narrative into, into people who were struggling in life in some sort of way.
And people who are tuned in to your messages are studying, are struggling in life in some sort of way. They need money management. That’s why they’re broke. You know what I’m saying?
Tiffany Grant: Gotcha. Gotcha. So now that you say it like that, that makes complete sense. So even if you aren’t like putting on plays or acting in plays or any type of.
stage thing. If you are a speaker, you are also in a theatrical performance. And I never thought about that. Uh, so thank you for broadening my view of what a theatrical theater is. Uh, so okay.
Adrian Quarles: Now that we got that
Tiffany Grant: out the way, let’s talk about, um, my original question, which was going to be, How do you, so when you’re approaching these venues, first of all, how do you find a venue to put your play
Adrian Quarles: on? Um, I would say that Google word of mouth, they’re your best friends. Like, um, a lot of the local community theaters here in Greensboro and also in Winston Salem are willing to like find a date in their performance calendar.
In which the, the, the, the venue will not be used and they, and they’re willing to book it out because yo, Tiffany theaters are broke. You will not, you will not make any money. Uh, if you’re in theater to make money, you’re in the wrong business. In fact, theaters can very much use your financial expertise.
So they’re looking for different ways to, uh, to make money. is by booking the theater. is by renting the theater out. Now you may have a more difficult time renting out a college theater like, like, uh, over at UNCG or A& T or Winston state. But, um, it is possible depending on the place. Like if you were to go to community, the Greensboro and say, I want to rent your star theater.
You can do that. You just gotta find a date when they’re not, when it’s not in usage. Uh, if you go to, um, if you go to Creative Greensboro and say, I want to rent out the Stephen D. Hires Theater, you can do that. You just gotta, you just gotta be a date when it’s not in use. Find that date. Make sure to schedule your play around that date, right?
Um, if you’re being, if you’re independent like I am, there’s gonna be times when you may have to rehearse on Zoom, Google Hangouts, or or at the nearest coffee shop because you may not be able to rehearse at the venue because you gotta spend a large amount of the budget on even booking out the venue for one, two, three nights, right?
Um, me, I, me, I booked out time, uh, over at call clue multicultural center for one, for one night. Then like two, then like, uh, three months later. I did three nights as a part of the cast of Truman Capote’s holiday memories over at the same venue. It was three nights. It was booked out by triad pride. So I would say in booking it, call them, give them, I would say, call the theater, right?
Call the artistic director. Uh, of of the theater, whoever’s running the theater, um, express interest in booking it right and make sure they have a plan of how you are going to, how you are going to get seat, get behinds in the seats because I don’t think any theater would be interested in, uh, lending their, their venue out to someone who is going to, where it’s just going to be, um, the performers and the roaches if there are roaches.
Right. Um, Hey, you look around some theaters. You’re going to see a popcorn kernel or two laying around and there’s going to be a La Cucaracha ready to eat it up. But a theatrical, but theatrical venue would like to know your plan on getting people there, your marketing plan and how you are going to pay it all off.
Now, if you’re able to pay it up, pay it up front. Great. Great. Then you can worry about, uh, then you can worry about paying for the marketing. Uh, paying the actors and paying the liability insurance, but first thing first, make sure to have it in your budget to pay off the venue and then you are. And if you have, if you can, if you could convince the venue that this is a winning production that’s going to, uh, draw money and draw interest into the venue, because you are also, because the venue is also.
Marketing themselves in the play, right? Who knows in the program of the play, you give a little shout out to you. You look, you get a little shout. You could give a little shout out to the venue. And somebody might go on the website of that venue and be like, okay, yo, what plays are going on here? Cause I’m seeing posts of this, that, and the third.
So it’s a partnership really.
Tiffany Grant: And I’m glad you brought that up because like, first of all, I didn’t know how this works. Um, so I’m glad I asked the question, but looking at it in terms of a partnership. So when you approach the venue, they give you the price. And then in some cases they give you the option to pay it up front, or you can pay it after the production.
Do they ever also? Oh, go ahead. Nah, um,
Adrian Quarles: uh, sorry, sorry, but nah, you have to be, have it paid off by, normally you have to pay it off within like, uh, a week or two before the production.
Tiffany Grant: Ah, okay, okay. So have you ever seen, and this is just my brain going, um,
Adrian Quarles: Good, when your brain goes, people make money. Go ahead.
Tiffany Grant: Right. Um, have you ever seen where theaters will do like a percentage of ticket sales? Um,
Adrian Quarles: I’ve heard, I’ve heard of that before. I haven’t seen it personally, but, um, I have, I have heard of that happening. Um, yeah, I, I, I can’t think of, I can’t think of any, uh, time, uh, right off hand, but. I know that that happens.
Like, I know, I do know that triad, triad stage, triad stage. That’s not, yeah, triad stage, I’m tripping, triad stage. Sorry, 37. Uh, triad stage, um, their whole equity is based off of a percentage of the ticket sales. Um, and their whole… Uh, exists as of a, as a theater company, as a regional theater company.
Tiffany Grant: Gotcha.
Gotcha. Okay. That was just my brain going to see like, cause when you said a partnership, I’m like, Oh, well, are there other ways to like negotiate this? If you don’t have the money up front, you’re like, Hey, I know this is going to bring in a lot of people. I can maybe do half up front and I could give you a percentage of the ticket sales, you know, or what have you.
Adrian Quarles: I think, like I said, I know that there’s theater companies who do operate like that. It just depends on who, um, so that, so that notion wouldn’t be far fetched, but I would imagine that if, um, the theater company was going to cut a deal like that, it would, it would have to be like a certain percentage up front, like 50, maybe 75 percentage up front and, um, of the ticket sales.
Um, yeah, get, get percentage of that.
Tiffany Grant: Mm hmm. Absolutely. So, Adrian, we just scratched the surface, but you gave so many good tips of, and I especially love how you said in order to cut costs on, um. Actually practicing doing it over zoom, you know, just setting up somewhere in a public area and practicing Um, I think that’s definitely thinking outside the box and we didn’t even get to talk about how you put together plays that were actually Given via zoom, which I attended one.
Um, but maybe i’ll just have you again for the third time
Adrian Quarles: I’ll be totally cool with that. I would be totally cool with that But, um, but I would say to you and to your, I will say to you and your listening, all this audience, I would say that in any medium, um, that you possibly can cut costs. Like I would say, have a, have a thrift store mentality.
You go to the thrift store, you’re going to buy clothes. That you will probably find at the mall for, uh, that costs like a hundred dollars more. Have a thrift store mentality. What can you, what can you purchase? What can, how can you, how can you contribute to the play without it costs you a whole, a whole lot of money.
Tiffany Grant: Gotcha. Gotcha. Thank you so much for that. And if you all are interested in learning more about Adrian, um, and his podcast, which we didn’t even hit on that. Either he gives, um, it’s all for creators and people that, uh, make content. Uh, matter of fact, just go ahead and tell us where we could find you. If we were interested in,
Adrian Quarles: if you wanted to, if you wanted to find me.
Which, uh, this is not to the stalkers out there, but if you wanted to find me, um, you can find me on YouTube. I got my own YouTube channel, Adrian Dion Quarles, A D R I A N D I O N Q U A R L E S. You can see films that I’ve acted in, poems that I’ve put up, um, episodes of my podcast. And also, if you wanted to like, if you looked at my incredibly fat frame, um, in my podcast.
It says, Sheesh, I don’t want to see this guy taking up all my, uh, all my screen. I have all your episodes. Thank God. I’m not that big anymore. But anyway, you can find all your episodes of my podcast ADQs Renaissance on pretty much anywhere where podcasts are found. You know what I’m saying? All you gotta do is just like type it in Google ADQs Renaissance.
You will find it. We, uh, I’m on, I’m on, uh, let’s see Spotify, Spotify for podcasters, uh, Audible, Amazon. Bye. Bye. Spreaker I heart radio, you know, I’m out there. I’m trying to be great like you Tiffany
Tiffany Grant: Cut it out. Thank you so much. Well, I appreciate you coming on the show And if you all didn’t catch that I’ll have all those links that Adrian just said in the show notes.
So check those out. A very dope brother puts together really good plays. Um, and I’m just excited that he was able to share his knowledge with you all today. So thank you so much,
Adrian Quarles: Adrian. Thank you for having me. I promise you I am blushing like a Christmas light right now. Thank you.
Tiffany Grant: All right. Bye.
Intro/Outro: Thank you for listening, joining and being a part of the Money Talk with Tiff podcast this week.
You can check Tiff out every Thursday for a new Money Talk podcast. But if you just can’t wait until next week, you can listen to previous podcast episodes at MoneyTalkWithT. com or follow Tiff on all social media platforms at MoneyTalkWithT. Until next time, spend wise by spending less than you make. A word to the money wise is Always sufficient.
In the latest episode of the Money Talk With Tiff podcast, Tiffany Grant interviews playwright and poet Adrian Quarles, a creative mastermind who understands the challenges of creating theater on a shoestring budget. Adrian shares essential tips and strategies for aspiring theater producers who aim to put on a successful show without breaking the bank.
Identify Your Target Audience
Before you start producing your play, it’s crucial to identify your target audience. By understanding who you want to attract to your production, you can better tailor your marketing and promotion efforts to speak their language and appeal to their tastes.
Save Money for Financing Your Production
As a theater producer, don’t just rely on ticket sales for funding your production. Start saving money for your play early to ensure you have the necessary funds when it’s time to put everything into action.
Finance Your Play With a Side Gig
Get creative in funding your production – consider taking on side gigs or freelance jobs to help finance your creative work without getting too deep into debt. This strategy will also provide valuable experience and connections you can leverage throughout your career.
Budget Wisely and Trim Costs
Develop a detailed budget for your production, listing all expenses involved. Don’t hesitate to cut costs where possible, without compromising the quality of the show.
Ensure Liability Insurance
Obtaining liability insurance is essential for protecting yourself and your production. This insurance will safeguard you from potential mishaps or accidents during the show.
Pay Your Actors What They Deserve
Adrian emphasizes the importance of compensating your actors fairly. Providing a fair wage not only encourages actors to give a stellar performance but also fosters a positive working environment, which can result in a more successful production.
Find Affordable Venues
When it’s time to book a location for your play, explore options through Google searches and word-of-mouth referrals. Remember that many theaters need the extra income and are often willing to rent out their spaces at affordable rates.
Develop a Thrift Store Mentality
Lastly, Adrian suggests adopting a “thrift store mentality.” Be resourceful and find creative ways to contribute to your production without breaking the bank. With careful planning and smart choices, you can create a powerful theater experience on a limited budget.
Keep the Conversation Going
Now that you’ve got the essential tips for producing a successful play on a budget, it’s time to put them into action! Share this blog post with fellow theater enthusiasts and start the conversation on smart budgeting in the creative arts industry.