What to expect when you work with a KAPHP member.
AT YOUR SITE:
Most of the professionals on this website research, write, and enact first person Chautauqua-style narratives. Monologues generally run from thirty minutes to an hour, followed by an opportunity for the audience to ask questions, first of the historic figure, and then of the scholar.
Professional historical performers know far more about their topic than can ever be presented in a single program. Therefore they welcome questions from the audience. The most practiced performers can easily move in and out of character, taking questions as the historic figure, but also being able to answer as the scholar those questions that their character cannot, such as, “How did s/he die?” and “How did you find out so much about her/him?” If you contract with a performer who has a policy of never stepping out of character (more likely the case with reenactors than with historical performers) you will want to provide a different means for the audience to ask questions from the perspective of their time and experience.
Costume and props
In theater, the audience is usually a considerable distance from the performer and creative license is encouraged in costuming and props. Professional historical performers, on the other hand, know that their audiences are likely to be toe-to-toe with them after the performance, if not during it. Therefore, they invest time and money in getting clothing and props that are as accurate as possible. They are able to graciously explain any anachronisms (i.e. the use of a weave that would have been unavailable at the time or a globe that displays boundaries not extant at the time).
You should be able to request from the historical performer you hire a list of resources (a bibliography and/or study guide) that reflects both the best scholarly thinking and materials that would be interesting to the general public. Professional historical performers are lifelong learners who enjoy sharing their resources with others.
Letting you know their needs
Professionals know themselves and their limitations—if they need “down time” to themselves just before going on, or food two hours beforehand, or a bathroom nearby, they will let you know. They want you to get the best possible performance.
To make their performances affordable for you most performers do not pay someone to go on the road with them. Therefore, they will need help—some kind soul attached to them to meet them at an easy-to-find location, take them to the staging area, help them unload their gear (if that help is wanted), introduce them to the person who will be introducing them, and generally smooth the waters.
Professional historical performers who get good references are those who become a part of your team. If the meal before their program is running a little late they can deal with it—even if it means shortening the script so that they can make it to their next engagement on time.
You can trust a professional historical performer to do what they say they will do.
DURING THE NEGOTIATION PROCESS
A professional is not a professional until s/he has been hired. Successful professionals can, therefore, provide references.
Professional performers earn part or all of their living doing what they love to do. But even though they are working at something they enjoy, they must still not only put bread on the table and a roof over their head, but they must also purchase insurance, plan for retirement, and pay income tax, including social security. They also have job-related expenses—not only costumes and travel expenses, including maintaining vehicles and trailers, but also research expenses—purchasing books and traveling to historic sites and history conferences. They join associations such as the Santa Fe Trail Association, the Western History Association, and the Woman’s Studies Association so that they can stay on top of the very latest research in their areas. In addition, many historical performers affiliate with arts organizations.
New professional performers can truly be bargains. If their references are good, then feel sanctimonious that you are helping someone who is new, and smug that you are getting a good deal on a performance that will soon cost much more.
On the other hand, those whose fees reflect greater expertise and experience also usually have expertise in helping sponsors identify funding and cost-sharing possibilities
Contract and Invoice
A professional will provide a contract for you both to sign so that both performer and presenter (you) will understand the terms of your agreement. Some performers prefer a letter of agreement. The advantage of a contract is that it has both of your signatures.
At a minimum the contract should contain:
Date and time of the performance
Time of arrival for set-up and microphone checks
What the performer/producing company will provide, such as which performer, publicity materials, curriculum materials, playbill copy, and sound system
What the sponsor will provide, such as performance space, seating for the audience, publicity, sound system, electricity for the producer’s sound system, lighting, technical crew, lodging, and someone to help with last-minute needs
Total performance fee, including travel expense
When the fee is due (usually immediately following the performance)
What happens if due to an emergency either party must cancel or change the contract (such as a date change)
In addition, the contract might contain:
Special requests from the performer such as the type of dressing area or provision of bottled water or meals
Local transportation (especially if the performer will be flying in)
Staging (a riser? if so, how large?)
Even if you have never before sponsored a performance, a professional can help you walk through the process ahead of time over the phone or via e-mail. Professionals can use their experience to suggest the best sort of staging, including time of day. They can also help you design an introduction and fit their entrance and exit to your venue.
Professional performers know other performers. If they do not have a date available, they should be able to refer you to someone else who might.