Discovering Songs for a New World with NYU GAP Productions
An interview with producer Catie Davis about fundraising on Kickstarter and taking care of the business side of student productions.
A rehearsal photo for Songs for a New World (Courtesy of Catie Davis)
One of the great things about going to NYU is that there is always a production to go see, from experimental pieces to old school musicals. Often, these productions are completely run by students. NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Undergrad Drama Department has the GAP Program, which student producer Catie Davis describes as allowing "students from different training backgrounds to unite as producers, directors, designers, performers, etc. and create a production that they handle from its proposal through performance."
Catie is currently producing the upcoming GAP production of Jason Robert Brown's 1995 song cycle Songs for a New World. She is a junior in Drama at the Playwrights Horizons Theater School.
SARAH MOORE: What exactly is your role as the producer?
CATIE DAVIS: It is my job to oversee the entire development of the piece. I primarily handle budget, fundraising, and promotion, but I like to be a positive presence in rehearsal and production meetings as well. My job is to make sure everyone involved is able to focus on seeing their vision achieved, and not have to worry about the more business-y parts of putting up a musical.
SM: Right, for example you funded your show with Kickstarter. What was that like, did it make a big difference?
CD: Kickstarter is a great way to fundraise because it is quick, electronic, and allows for donations of any amount. We set a $1000 goal with Kickstarter and, thanks to the generosity of family and friends, we were able to meet it within a few weeks. Kickstarter was not our only means of fundraising however; we have raised a significant amount of our budget through other methods such as personal sponsor letters, a fundraiser party, and a cabaret performance.
SM: Why did you choose Songs for a New World? What can we expect from this production that's unique? CD: Songs for a New World is an incredible piece of theater because it bares the universal feeling of indecision and asks the audience to examine its relation in their own life. This song cycle portrays, in every single song, a person who is caught in the moment between feeling something about their situation and deciding how to act. It is my goal, and the goal of the rest of the team, to use this piece to illuminate how massive these decisions may seem, yet how simple deciding to act can be. What is unique about this specific production is that it is not only being sung-through, but danced through. We have four choreographers working on the show -- including the director -- and dance varies in style from tap to modern to ballet to suzuki. Songs for a New World is only a four-person show, and this production is a physical and vocal marathon.
SM: What's the background of your production team? Are you all Drama students? CD: This production team is primarily NYU Drama students from Playwrights Horizons Theatre School, CAP21, The New Studio on Broadway, The Production and Design Studio, The Meisner Studio, and Stella Adler. Our music director is a Music Theory and Composition major in NYU Steinhardt, however, and our musicians will not be Drama students. GAP productions are great because they provide opportunities for students from different studios to collaborate.
This production of Songs for a New World is just one of many productions currently running at NYU, and a great example of how you can use Kickstarter to finance your own show. If you live here in New York, check out this production! Songs for a New World runs February 20 through the 24 at 8pm, and February 25 at 2pm and 8pm, at The Shop Theater on the 2nd floor of 721 Broadway.
For more ticket information please click here. And check out the promo video!