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Planning Your Theatre Program for the School Year

By On The Stage

When your students begin filing into class for another school year, that means it’s also time to map out your theatre programming for the upcoming year. There are a variety of moving parts to consider when planning your programs and choosing your titles; we explore a few considerations, as well as easy steps to help you get the 2022-2023 season off on the right foot.

The Considerations

Before you take the plunge into arranging your theatre program for the upcoming year, there are a few things to think on. These include:

  • The talents (and limitations) of your potential cast
    Take a look at your potential pool of actors. Take into consideration both their strengths and weaknesses in terms of singing, dancing, and acting, as well as their ages, genders, and other important demographics. Remember to pick titles that will cater to their strengths, while still pushing them to improve their crafts. 

  • The talents (and limitations) of your potential crew
    Just like with your actors, you don’t want your crew to be overwhelmed or dying of boredom backstage. Ensure the lighting and sound cues, costuming, set pieces, transitions, and other backstage elements can be tackled with some effort by your talented students. 

  • Your annual budget
    When planning your theatre program for the coming year, take a hard look at your budget and ensure you’re setting up your students and yourself for success this year. Don’t stretch your budget too far to include a title you really like, or spend all your money on one show at the expense of all the others. Need some cash flow to accommodate? Keep reading … 

  • The inclusion of events, contests, or fundraisers alongside theatrical programming
    Creating and running a theatre program is mostly about the shows, yes, but not entirely. Consider the inclusion of open house events to draw patrons in. Think about hosting contests for your students, which will keep them energized while bringing more attention to your showcases. And, of course, fundraising should be a major consideration while planning. Ask yourself what types of fundraisers you want to host, what your tangible financial goals are, and when it would be best to run these fundraisers. 

  • Specialized educational or thematic touchstones within your school/district
    Oftentimes, school districts will operate with specific educational focuses, both inside and outside the classroom. Consider those when planning your season. Can they be incorporated into your programming?

  • Any content restrictions
    Depending on your school’s teachings and the age of your students, you’ll likely need to keep a sharp eye on the content within your chosen titles. Make sure the shows you choose are age-appropriate and won’t garner you any … DUN DUN DUN … angry parent emails!

  • Timing
    Timing, timing, timing. A few questions to ask yourself on this topic: How much time do you have between your productions? How many hours a week do you get to rehearse with your students? When would be the best time to put on certain productions? Are there any major events your school is hosting that may impede musical attendance? When is your school’s auditorium available for use? 

  • The bandwidth of your potential cast, crew, and secondary staff
    When deciding your shows, your rehearsal schedule, your production timelines, and your other programming ideas, remember that you are not the only person involved. Take the workload of your students into account when creating the schedules, as well as the workloads of your support staff. Remember – people should always come first!

The Steps

While there’s no perfect avenue or order to create ideal theatre programming, here are some steps to add to the itinerary as you get into the flow.

  • Select titles
    Whether you’re doing a singular musical, several plays, a one-act, a series of monologues, or something in between, get those choices out of the way early (utilizing the considerations mentioned above, of course). It will take a major load off your shoulders, and the shoulders of your support staff, to make the big choices first. 

  • Assemble your non-student support
    Having adults in your corner at the start of your season and programming is key. Whether you’re a small but mighty team that consists of a few educators, or you have a large support staff of parents, teachers, and administrators, gather together early to strategize, share goals, and bounce ideas off one another. 

  • Confirm show and event dates
    Before you do much else, get hard dates set for performances, fundraisers, and other important events. Not only does this give you a clear end date to help you plan, but this also gives your students and support staff ample time to plan around other major occasions. 

  • Auditions/casting
    Take the proper time and care when arranging and running your auditions. You want to create a professional environment, yes, but also one that’s educational and welcoming. Be sure to guide students through proper audition etiquette, and don’t drag out casting decisions longer than necessary.

  • Formulate a production timeline
    Once you’ve assembled your crew, take stock of achievable goals and make a tentative production timeline. Go over the set pieces that need to be created, as well as potential lighting and sound ideas, costuming, and other technical must-dos. 

  • Formulate rehearsal timelines
    Once you know the breadth of your actors’ talent, you can make a realistic rehearsal timeline. Make sure to keep things reasonable for students, who are likely balancing a variety of other obligations. 

  • Create clear expectations within your theatre
    Once your show is picked and casted, sit down with everyone involved to go over expectations for the coming rehearsals. Students thrive when they know what is expected of them, so be clear, direct, and encouraging throughout the process.

  • Brainstorm cash flow ideas
    Once you’ve gotten the hang of rehearsals, sit down with your support team to brainstorm funding strategies. Any time’s a good time to fundraise, but rehearsals are an exciting moment when you have the ability to raise awareness and buzz for your show while also raising capital. 

  • Unleash best practices for marketing
    As your rehearsals come together, document progress on social media. Ensure your student marketing team (or you and your staff) are taking advantage of marketing materials, promoting merchandise, sending out informative email blasts, and hanging posters around your school.

  • Create programs
    Every great show needs a great program. Make sure to plan ahead on that, formulating the cast bios, graphics, and paid advertisements from community partners and parents. (Psst – On The Stage can help with that! )

  • Sell tickets
    Going hand-in-hand with your marketing strategies, utilize streamlined ticketing software to make the purchase and scanning of your tickets as easy as possible. (And yes – we can help with that, too.)


As you kick off your planning for the next exciting school year, utilize the tools and resources you need to ensure success. On the Stage offers a suite of resources for clients – whether you’ve barely started planning your season or are well underway. Fundraising, marketing, ticketing, audience engagement, artwork, merchandise – On The Stage does it all. Schedule a personalized demo today to get started.


Theatre Producer's Planner and worksheets

Tags: school theatre, production, resources, how-to, marketing

On The Stage

On The Stage

By theatre makers, for theatre makers, On The Stage offers expert insights, best-in-class support, and an all-in-one platform for ticketing, promotion, audience engagement, and more...including a complete production and streaming platform for performing artists. Learn more today.