teatime theatre, tea play, laurie nienhaus, gilded lily publishing
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The Teatime Theatre Project

Teatime Theatre: In Your Tearoom!

An interview with Laurie Nienhaus of Gilded Lily Publishing and

Gail Gastelu, Publisher of The Tea House Times


Have you ever considered hosting a theatre event in your tea room or in your community?  Listen in as Gail Gastelu, Publisher of The Tea House Times, interviews Laurie Nienhaus of Gilded Lily Publishing about Teatime Theatre. Teatime Theatre is entertaining. It's exciting. AND, it can provide additional revenue and exposure not only for tearoom owners but for churches and not-for-profits.

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  Hello everyone! This is Gail Gastelu, Publisher of The Tea House Times and I'm here today with Laurie Nienhaus. Laurie is an author, speaker and playwright long known for her serious play in the tea world. Welcome, Laurie!


LAURIE:  Hi Gail. I'm glad to be here with you.


GAIL:  So, Teatime Theatre. It's catchy and it sounds intriguing. Tell us the concept.


LAURIE:  It's simple really. It's the hosting of a live theatre performance in a tearoom. The tearoom becomes the stage.


GAIL:  That is a novel idea. What made you think of this?


LAURIE:  I was having tea with friends at Brambles Tearoom in Naples, here in SW Florida. Brambles is a lovely British style tea room and there was a table near us where the guests were...well, let's just say teatime was completely foreign to them. The contrast between these folks and the elegance of Brambles was so striking and that's when the question popped into my head - what would happen if everything went hilariously amuck at teatime? It wasn't long after that I literally woke up with the plot of my first play, A Teatime Travesty, swimming about in my head.


GAIL:  Teatime can be very refined and we don't usually associate it with a lot of humor.


LAURIE:  Exactly. And the world - even the tea world - can always use more laughter.


GAIL:  I Agree! Now, how did the idea of The Teatime Theatre Project come along?


LAURIE:  A Teatime Travesty as well as my second play, Tea-A-Ria, were well received. The venues, which were not always tearooms by the way, were pleased on all fronts with their participation. The idea of The Teatime Theatre Project came about as I pondered how best to let the tea world learn the possibilities of marrying teatime with live theatre. I see The Teatime Theatre Project as a jumpstart.


GAIL:  My daughter has been in theatre for many years, so I truly support this idea of tea rooms hosting small theatre productions, especially as it presents an additional stream of revenue.  But live theatre will present a challenge for a tea room owner not accustomed to theatre production.  How will you help tea room owners understand the logistics of hosting a Live theatre event in their space? 


LAURIE:  In many ways, a theatre production is like any other special event a tea room owner might choose to host. But, you do need some basic information in your hat. Tearoom owners are extraordinarily busy people and in order for them to have the same success - and not make the same mistakes I made - I have written an ebook entitled Teatime Theatre: In Your Tearoom. If they follow the guidelines presented in this ebook, it's quite managable for savvy tearoom owners and they should do well.


GAIL:  I have read the entire 33 pages and found the book to be highly detailed and explanatory in an easy to read format. But, before we go any further with your ebook and the questions I'm sure tearoom owners have, can you first tell me why a tearoom owner would choose to host a theatre production in their establishment?


LAURIE:  Well currently, live theatre during the tea hour remains a novel idea few - if any - tea rooms take advantage of. The novelty alone is enough to not only create excitement but to make a memorable experience for guests which in their minds will always be associated with the tearoom. This novelty also makes it easy to fill the house and to attract media attention in the community.  And, not only can it be lucrative, Teatime Theatre can potentially expand the tea room client base.  They will likely attract theatre goers who may have never before stepped foot in their establishment - or any other tearoom for that matter. It is also risk free.


GAIL:  Business owners always like the sound of that but why is Teatime Theatre risk free?


LAURIE:  First of all, since the tearoom is the stage, the time consuming, and often expensive aspects of a production, such as the construction and cost of stage sets are non-issues. No special lighting or sound effects are required. But most importantly, the freedom from risk is in their contracting with a community theatre company. Rather than paying a set fee, which they would then need to honor regardless of ticket sales, they pay the company a per head fee based on guest attendance.


GAIL: I see. You also mention the theatrical term "angels" in your ebook. What is an angel and how does the support of an angel help keep the project risk free?


LAURIE:  In the theatrical world, an angel is another business or individual willing to support the production or some aspect of it. An angel might wish to pay for advertising, any needed costuming or props or for the printing cost of the program. This is explained in detail in the ebook.


GAIL: The ebook defines a lot of theatre and production terminology, roles of the director, tea room owner, and theatre company.  I think the tea rooms will find this very useful.  Although the book is in depth, I do think they will have questions regarding royalties, copyright, insurance, and contracts. Can you briefly describe some of this?


LAURIE:  Let's begin with copyright. As an author, I automatically hold ownership of any artistic work I create. However, since I've further taken the step of officially copyrighting my plays, for instance, I can pursue legal action against those attempting to produce them without my permission. It is the royalty payment made by those wanting to reproduce my work that allows them to legally do so. But, this also means that the plays must be performed as written. One cannot change anything in any artistic work without permission of the playwright.


As for contracts, there are samples in the book. The tea room owner and their chosen theatre company MUST officially contract with one another. It would be foolish to forge ahead with advertising and ticket sales prior to a signed contract being in their possession - which, by the way, is handled early on. Tearoom owners interested in becoming part of The Teatime Theatre Project will also be asked to sign a contract with me saying only that it is understood the project ends in December of 2015 and that the works of Gilded Lily Publishing produced beyond that date is a copyright infringement.


Lastly, as for the insurance...this is again one of the beauties of the project. Although tea rooms are encouraged to check with their insurance company, since they are not adding sets or making any electrical changes - and if you do not attempt to fill the house more people than their fire marshal has stated their building or room can accommodate - there should be no additions to their insurance.  The theatre company they choose should carry their own insurance. They are also encouraged to ask for proof of insurance from them.


GAIL: Other topics covered in the book include things like casting, rehearsals, playbills, advertising, financial planning, menus, and sample media releases—It is all very complete and informative, but what kind of support will you be providing along the way?


LAURIE:  First, every tea room listening in will receive the ebook Teatime Theatre: In Your Tearoom free of charge.  They are highly encouraged to read this ebook before deciding whether they can commit to the project.


For those deciding to become part of The Teatime Theatre Project, I will:

1. Forego all script cost and royalty payments.
2. Offer an imagery package for use in creating flyers, table tents and a performance day program for the play they choose.
3. A special group will be set up on Facebook to answer questions and post pictures.

4. Continually sending out media releases to the tea industry about the project, naming the participating tea rooms. 


The project will be featured at TheTeaHouseTimes.com and on both of my websites, GLily.com and LaurieNienhaus.com as well as mentioned throughout the next two years on my blog, No Cobwebs Here.

What is the next step for those listening in now?


LAURIE: Email me at editor@glily.com - again that's editor@glily.com    I might also suggest you visit GLily.com and click on plays. You'll then be able to read excerpts from both A Teatime Travesty and Tea-A-Ria


There will be more conference calls to come as needed and these will be communicated through the webpages already mentioned. The Teatime Theatre Project Facebook group will also be a great resource for questions and comments.


GAIL:  Well, I am thrilled you've invited The Tea House Times to assist in promoting the Teatime Theatre project because together, we can bring the arts into tea rooms across America. We have created a project specific landing page online where people may listen to this interview, and access additional information and contact details for Laurie.  Through this page we will also provide a download for the e-book, links to the Facebook group, and other ways we will be reporting on and promoting participating tea rooms.  See http://teatimetheatre.theteahousetimes.com.


Thank you for your time, Laurie. I look forward to working with you and all interested tea rooms.


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