Thursday, July 30, 2009

Casting Connection Interviews PianoFIght's SHIT Show

Ray Hobbs, Devin McNulty and Duncan Wold, producers of PianoFight's touring sketch comedy act, "The SHIT Show," shot the bull around with Casting Connection's Molly Craft in her radio show The Production Office for about an hour today, in advance of the premiere of "SHIT Show V: A Laugh 'N A Half" which runs Fri & Sat nights at 8:00pm, July 31 - August 15 (Get SHIT tickets here).


- Devin gets totally shot down by Molly after an awkward story about sleeping ass-to-ass with Ray

- A fan of the SHIT Show phones in to ask about upcoming performances and SHIT Producers are baffled by the fact that an actual human actually follows their work

- Duncan announces PianoFight's plan to run "Throw Rotten Veggies at the Actors Night" in October during SHIT Show Deluxe as a response to TBA's "Free Night of Theater" (more to come on this in August)

The interview in full:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

S.H.I.T. Show V - Promo Video

Kick ass promo video for "The Stop Hating Imagination Time Show V: A Laugh 'N A Half" - limited world premiere run Fri and Sat nights at 8:00pm, July 31 - August 15.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Combined Artform and PianoFight Buck Recession - Getting Stronger

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – July 21, 2009 – As the recession looms and hundreds of theater companies receive government stimulus money (the NEA’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants), Combined Artform and PianoFight, two for profit, non-government aided companies, are expanding in both Los Angeles and San Francisco while building a theatrical pipeline between both cities.

In San Francisco, Combined Artform and PianoFight will be managing all of Off-Market Theaters, including two theaters (54 and 65 seat black boxes) and a large rehearsal room as of September 1, 2009. And in Los Angeles, Combined Artform will add the 45 seat Theater Lab to its management duties in September along with the 80 seat Theater Asylum it has been running since July of 2007.

Starting in 2006, Combined Artform began bringing shows up from LA (PAPA and Eavesdropper.) Joined by PianoFight in 2007, both companies have actively worked to send shows between the two cities with wildly successful bi-city runs of FORKING!, ShortLived, The Stop Hating Imagination Time Show and Tilted Frame (currently running in both cities). Plans are being made for future development of this pipeline, including solo performance.

It is the goal of Combined Artform and PianoFight to leverage the multiple spaces in both cities to bring these two great theater communities closer together. As theaters across the country shutter their doors, and companies cut back on budgets and season lengths, Combined Artform and PianoFight are thriving while using an unusual business model in theater – the for-profit company.

About Combined Artform (Formerly-C.A.F.E.- Combined Art Form Entertainment)

Founded in 1998, is on a mission to develop and combine all art forms to pioneer the “arts of the future,” as well as be an active and supporting member of the San Francisco and now Los Angeles performance production scene. Created by Producing Artistic Director Matthew Quinn, and joined by Steve Kahn in 1999, Combined Artform has collaborated with actors, singers, filmmakers, sketch comedy groups, musicians, improvisers, and fine artists in more than 100 shows, including Santaland Diaries, Eavesdropper (SF), Improv Jam, PAPA (at the Eureka w/Open Fist), Tilted Frame – SF & LA and the SF Solo Festival, Shortlived and FORKING.

PianoFight Productions began in July of 2007 when Dan Williams and Rob Ready formed the company with the simple goal of producing new work by new artists. In its short existence, PianoFight has created such critically acclaimed hits as ShortLived, FORKING!, and The S.H.I.T. Show (all of which have had runs in LA) as well as taken over management of a theater (Studio 250 @ Off-Market), developed a website and blog with hours and pages of original content, and produced a recurring webseries (iN PRODUCTiON) and short film. For more info, please visit

Press Contacts:

Matthew Quinn – Combined Artform – Tel: (415 )336-0513 –

Rob Ready – PianoFight – Tel: (917) 363-9646 –

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

PianoFight on Blog Talk Radio Today - Call In!

PianoFight's Rob Ready, Eric Reid and Dan Williams were interviewed on Casting Connection's Blog Talk Radio with Molly Craft (7/7/09) about The Theatertron. Friends and fans called in to chat (make fun of us) and have a high minded debate on theatrical theory (continue to make fun of us).

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Matthew Quinn's Cost Break Down of "Free Night"

After a lively debate on the blogotubes over the last few weeks, hopping around multiple blogs, lots of individual posts, and even more comments, we offered Combined Artform's Matthew Quinn some space to give his unvarnished thoughts on Theatre Bay Area's "Free Night," in order to condense a thread from four different sites and sum up the numbers - he graciously accepted. Below is a quick summary of the conversation to date followed by Quinn's post.


May 17: Radiostar interviews PianoFight on current state of theater, discuss Theatre Bay Area's "Free Night of Theater" program

June 9: Theatre Bay Area (TBA) releases a study titled "Assessing the Intrinsic Impact of the Bay Area Free Night of Theater Program"

June 16: Arts Journal posts results from an NEA funded survey which cites double digit declines in theatrical audiences since 1982

June 18: Head theater critic for SF Weekly Chloe Veltman invites TBA's marketing director Clay Lord to post his thoughts on the study in a post titled "Great Study. But What's It For?" - Dan Wilson (of Radiostar), Sam Shaw (of Crisis Hopkins), Matthew Quinn (of Combined Artform) and Carl Benson (of PianoFight) respond with questions about specific numbers

June 23: TBA posts second study of "Free Night" with hard data on ticket requests, actual attendees, and follow up purchases prompting PF's Benson to make case against "Free Night" in post "The Real Problem with TBA's 'Free Night of Theater'"

June 26: TBA's Clay Lord responds on TBA blog Chatterbox in post titled "Theatre, Relevance and Hush Puppies" and Matthew Quinn presses for more numbers

July 2: Matthew Quinn breaks down cost of "Free Night" versus return in sum-up of conversation on the PianoFight blog (below)



Thank you so much for this information it helps to give me a better picture of the value of "Free Night of Theatre." And thanks to PianoFight for letting this go up as a post and not just a comment, and outlining the thread of conversation.

So summing up the numbers, the actual value of this project is much higher.

$182,000 - Printed value of tickets

$200,000 - Original PR Services

$50,000 - Additional PR services

$20,000 - TBA Services

$40,000 -Survey

$492,000 - Total Resources used for FNOT

-So almost a half a million dollars worth of resources are used for FNOT and for that you get 3,581 people to attend a show, at a resource cost of $137 per person.

-Of those people, 74% were first timers seeing the company putting on a show or 2,650 people, to get this market it cost $186 per person of the resources.

-And for the ever so hard to get, new people to the theater, 18% or 645 people for $765 per person.

So looking at this I think one needs to ask, is FNOT really working?

Is this an appropriate use of these resources?

Could something more effective be done instead?

I'm sure there are many positive elements of this project, but is it providing you with the right type of awareness, people, and information at a cost that makes sense?

Are theaters in the community (large, small, members of TSC) fully aware of the cost and reward of this project? Half a million seems like a lot for a one day event.

And to the second point, of course it would be great to have a survey to confirm those hunches we have on audience decisions, to get more insight into an audiences actions and how to get new people to our shows.

My question: "Are these even the right people to be surveyed?"

And are the above questions even the ones we should be asking? It's a bit disconcerting that money is being spent for data that isn't considered useful, yet, just wait and see.

And while I understand grant money takes a while to come down the pipe, and you're reacting to plans from years ago, is it prudent to go ahead with a 4-5 city expansion using additional resources for a program that isn't utilizing those resources and providing information that is not yet useful?

I'm sure some people are happy with the results of the program. Any new people are great people to have, especially if, as you point out, there are not many (if any) out of pocket expenses. My concern is that no one appears to be questioning if there is a better use of these amazing resources, on a model that can bring in more people without saying theater has to be free in order for them to see it.

Does the community really see this as a benefit and effective use of resources?

Just because you can do this, should you?

We could still get 6 million marketing impressions with the same publicity, just a different program.

And what do companies feel about $40,000 being spent on a possibly useless survey when perhaps it could be used for other more relevant purposes?

I would really like to hear other companies' thoughts on this.

In closing, I did get a chance to read the posting on the Mark-Up and perhaps I'll get some time read that book, it sounds very interesting. I also added a comment about some thoughts I had on Free and Theater and while it's not an answer, I do try to come up with some different uses of "Free." And I'm sure the community could come up with a better program then FNOT to get audiences to the theatre, your thoughts?

Thanks again for your time and commitment to this conversation, it is appreciated.

Matthew Quinn

Combined Artform

UPDATE - JULY 4 (by PianoFight): As the conversation in comments has veered slightly away from TBA's "Free Night" and into the realm of the art itself, we thought it prudent to post a few more links which deal with this specifically, and which helped spur a lot of this type of conversation.

October 7, 2008: Brendan Kiley of Seattle's The Stranger newspaper posts article titled "Ten Things Theaters Need to Do Right Now to Save Themselves"

April 13, 2009: Kiley posts on The Stranger's blog a lengthy email from PianoFight's Rob Ready, interspersed with Kiley's commentary, disccussing Kiley's ideas and how successful PianoFight's application of those ideas has been in a post titled "Small, Successful Theater Companies in Other Cities: PianoFight from San Francisco"