Theatre Marketing: The Copy Writing Equation

I have conducted with great diligence, sincerity and scientific reason extensive research into a series of formulae for correct theatre marketing copy. It is with the greatest of pleasure that I publish it today. This might also be considered a guide to How to Write Theatre Marketing Copy.

As these are really very simple equations, I will give excessive numbers of examples. These are all helpfully inspired, or stolen*, from real life copy.

Names have been changed for the sake of anonymity.

The Startling Quote

This is an optional opening line if your play has a particularly cracking quote in it to exhibit. It is particularly suitable for problem plays or plays that consider a shocking or sensational topic. Or plays with famous quotes.


‘It’s summer. I’m in a supermarket. It’s hot and I’m sweaty. Damp.’

“Whence is that knocking? How is it with me, when every
noise appals me?”

‘Where would I go, if I could go, who would I be, if I could be, what would I say, if I had a voice, who says this, saying it’s me?’

The Summary

Adjective + Status or Genre + Significant Name

Usually a buzzword. Please refer to my helpful guide to theatre buzzwords here for inspiration on this topic.

Words you might consider are revival, adaptation, new play, new writing or production.

Examples of genre include thriller, comedy, tragedy, kitchen sink, pastiche, musical, fusion.

Significant Name
You might refer to a director, writer, designer or actor.

Each component may be used more than once or not at all. Order may be changed.

A chilling thriller written by Faredoon Walla.
A charismatic new play directed by Ruthie Jar.
An immersive adaptation of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedy.
A funny and tender adaptation.
Beth Stone’s compelling new thriller.
A state of the nation gay play.
This vital theatre bring their direct storytelling style to Shakespeare’s great masterpiece of dislocation.
A dynamic play with a global perspective.
An immersive blend of theatre and live music.
This is rough, vital theatre that raises debate and calls for action.
Psychological thriller from master playwright Emily Williams.
A riotous comedy of manners.
A brand new tragicomic musical directed by Dom Morrison and based on The Man Who Laughs by Victor Hugo.
A bold new production.
A vivid and darkly comic new adaptation by award-winning playwright Simone Stale.

The Blurb or Synopsis

A very exciting part of the equation because this bit is TOTALLY dependent on the actual play you’re producing rather than a series of theatre words and buzzwords.

The synopsis usually uses very short sentences to describe the primary action without spoilers.

Optional Components

Location, Year, Time.
Another excellent, pithy opener to set the scene. e.g. South Devon, 2001 or April, 1984. 13:00.

Rhetorical Question
Will you use one?

This allows maximum expenditure of buzzwords or adjectives in quick succession while retaining an element of classical persuasion.

e.g. Cracked hearts. Strange fates. Impossible dreams.

Shock Tactic
Aim to make your middle-class white core audience jump out of their seat in offended excitement. Similar to the startling quote in attack but usually used to conclude the copy. Often uses the word “contains” as though a recipe for disaster.

Contains sex, singing and sambuca.
Contains filthy language and immoral behaviour.

Call to Action
Don’t miss this hot ticket!
Don’t miss out.
Be the first to see…
Join us

*Disclaimer. This is a parody article and therefore no copyright infringement or offence is intended.