This One Goes to Eleven: Cynnamon Schreinert

Certainly one of the hardest working women in Vancouver show business, Cynnamon is an actor/photographer/writer/publicist, whose boutique PR and communications agency C.L. Schreinert & Associates devotes an enormous amount of their client load to the local theatre scene. In amongst many others, she has handled publicity for Bard on the Beach and the Van Fringe. This interview continues a series with women who are experts in the field of the business side of our business, and we’re proud to introduce you to her.

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1.) In one word, describe your present condition.

Organized chaos.

2.) In more than one word, describe the present condition of the Vancouver theatre scene.

It seems that people, not just the community members, are opening up to theatre. I’ve seen a real change in the audience. It’s a good sign that theatre is reaching the masses. Part of that is the excitement that has been brought back into it with a resurgence of productions going up.

3.) Seen any good plays lately?

I have seen so many plays this past year; some were good, some were par but overall I find it inspiring. The energy required for each production should always be acknowledged. It isn’t easy to put all of this together, especially for the smaller companies who don’t have the funding resources that larger companies do. If I had to give an opinion, I would have to say that my favorite theatre experience from 2007 was Timon of Athens. It was a very special production.

4.) Let’s say that I just wrote my very first play and I’m in the process of producing it. What do I need to do to win a Jessie with it?

For that you’d need to first ensure that the production was eligible. All of the eligibility requirements are on the Jessie site www.jessies.ca. Once your show has been approved for judging, my strongest recommendation would be to put on a good show. I would suggest that you have a solid script that has been dramaturged. Combined with good acting, directing and production value those are the elements that create winning productions.

5.) I’m also kind of nervous about inviting the critics to the show. Any advice for me on this one?

Don’t be nervous! Imagine that they are on your side. They want to see a good show; they want to be blown away. I’m pretty sure no one sets out that night to write a bad review; it’s only bad if it’s a bad production. There is limited space for the arts and most of that should be a positive reflection of theatre as a whole. That is what will encourage more people to come and view it.

6.) What advice do artists need to hear about the business side of their art?

Just that….it is a BUSINESS. You need to have a plan and think of where your career is going. There are so many things that you can make happen for yourself and it all begins with writing down goals. From there you have the makings of an action plan. I advise all artists to take time aside and formulate a five year goal plan that includes 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 3 years and then 5 years. When you write things down you become accountable and are more likely to reach your goals.

7.) Do you see any trends emerging within Vancouver theatre?

It’s always interesting to think of what the next trend will be. For theatre in Vancouver, I think this is the trend. With the support of the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad, Canada Council and private donations there are more opportunities for performance groups than ever before. Companies that have built a reputation for producing solid work have an opportunity to partner with other groups that may not receive as much in funding. The co-production is a great way for both companies to produce something and each receive recognition for the work.

8.) What potential does the internet hold for us as a publicity and marketing tool?

The internet is a limitless ocean. There is no end to the number of blogs, commentaries, business sites and social networks. It is all about having information accessible to the public. For a theatre company, one of the best things that they can do is invest in a website that is easy to navigate and reflects the style of the company. Have a special page for media and on there keep your press releases, press kits, photos and video. The simpler it is for the media to find your information the higher your chances of being mentioned. And the cost is minimal compared to the return on investment.

9.) What’s the best lesson you’ve learned as a business-woman since you started your company?

Luck is when opportunity and preparation meet. By having a focused plan I was able to work towards a goal of having a work/life balance. And sometimes that means diving right in. Don’t be afraid of what might happen; be more afraid of what may not happen if you don’t take a chance.

10.) What are your top 3 theatre business reads?

1. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare – the passages are timeless
2. The Artist’s Way – I’m choosing that publication because the morning pages were the most valuable thing. You can not spend three months complaining without actually doing something about it.
3. Sanford Meisner on Acting by Sanford Meisner – every actor should engage in Meisner training at one point.

11.) What’s next?

The 2008 Bard on the Beach season is just around the corner. I really enjoy the summers in Vanier Park and find there’s a magic in the air down there. In addition to Bard I also work corporately, giving me a fantastic career balance.

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