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Monday, October 3, 2011

The Amazing Maize Maze in AAA Magazine!

After almost 20 years, we're still amaized at how amazed the rest of the world is about the Corn Maze Game that Don Frantz created.  See below the article in this month's AAA Horizons Magazine!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Don celebrates turning 60!

While in China, with Joe Li, former TSP intern.  Note to self, Don turns 60 the same time the PRC turns 60!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Playing with Silk in China

Don is creating a new show in Inner Mongolia that will perform in Beijing and then move to Hohhut!  Here he has his actors improving and creating a scene with bolts of silk!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Rules of Doing Business in China

China Business Golden Rules I

(by Robert Ma)
Everything is possible

Nothing is easy

Western business logic does not apply

It is a fun project if there is no deadline

You must persist – things will come your way eventually

Patience is the essence of success

‘You Don’t Know China ’ means they disagree

‘New Regulation’ means they found a new way to avoid doing something

‘Internal Regulation’ means they are mad at you

‘Basically, No Problem’ means BIG problem

When you are optimistic, think about Rule # 2

When you are discouraged, think about Rule # 1


China Business Golden Rules II

(by Robert Ma)

The only certainty is uncertainty

Rules are made to be changed – as often as possible

Guanxi (relationships) and Guoquin (local situations) are the most often used words in business when disagreement occurs

If it comes down to someone losing face or giving you a lie, expect the lie

If a westerner estimates a delay or difficulty for a project in China , multiply the estimate by three and add 10%

If you want to buy more, expect to pay more

Getting approval or doing business in China is like dealing with a centipede. You need to coordinate with the head and tail and every pair of legs in between

The number of government units that can hurt you always exceeds the number of units that can help you

Western negotiation is generally based on ‘Give & Take’. In China , it is often ‘You give, I take’

Most people in China know Murphy’s Law, they apply it every day

Every project or situation is in a constant state of evolution, making long-term planning impossible

If the situation you encounter does not fit the above rules, please review China Business Golden Rules I

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

TSP & Beijing Songlei Musical Development!

Town Square Productions has been formally commissioned to be Beijing Oriental Songlei Musical Development Co, Ltd's formal representative for its world-class theatre's Grand Opening Celebrations in the fall of 2011.

Songlei will host the first "China International Musical Producers Forum" on October 26 - 28, culminating in the Opening Gala Performance on the evening of October 28, 2011.

Town Square Productions will continue in its role as Operations Consultant for Songlei, and responsible for providing 12 weeks of theatrical programming.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Theatre Development in Inner Mongolia

Today we moved into the new offices of the Grassland Foundation group. There is a sense that this may be a real company. It better be since they are considering the following projects in the next 6 months:
  • A full theatrical musical to perform in the best theater in Beijing and tour 4 Inner Mongolian theaters
  • Outdoor 90 minute spectacle in Hulunbeir in the summer
  • Outdoor 70 minute spectacle in Erjina in the autumn
  • A summer spectacle in Erdos
  • A summer time special event in the square in Hohhut
  • A film about Genghis Khan
  • A tv series about Kublai Khan
  • Management start up for 1000 seat theaters in both Alashan and Haila’er
Right now there are 4 employees and myself. Two of the four were with me for last year’s shows. The other two are new. Only one speaks English.
The work day starts at 9am when the bus picks us up from the hotel and drives us to the new office building. We get to work at 9:30am.
Since they wish us to eat at the hotel the bus picks us up at 11:30am so the driver can be off at noon.
After the lunch here in Inner Mongolia we have a rest until 3pm.
The bus does pick us up at 2:40pm so we can actually start work at 3pm.
Work is over at 5pm.
It was a good 4 hours of work today.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

a message from a Chinese Associate


Today National Theater has been more supportive. It is due to, I believe their commercial tryout during the past two or three years.
Take Jane Eyre as an example, they ask Wang Luoyong in for commercial purposes, and they did publicity for it and it has solid box offices performances. Later on, in the play white rose, red rose, Sishi Tongtang and Chinese production of Boeing Boeing, they all adopted star vehicle policies. As a result, they began to realize some commercial tricks (even though not all the tricks), they have a slightly better (but crucial )understanding of the market. For instance, the element to make a hit, how to appeal to the audience. In the past, the show would revolve around the director, now it is more about the producer. In this case, National Theater is slightly more (yet crucially) market based than the People's Art Theater. It is definitely a good sign. And when they are going to the market, they don't really compromises their taste, either because they have the tradition of being good, or for the fact that they can still ask the Ministry of Culture for funding. Either way, it is a positive sign that they will produce a qualified commercial production in the new future.

Monday, March 21, 2011


In the center of Beijing (with all of the power which that implies in today’s world), there sits since 1949 (the year the country was officially founded), The Central Academy of Drama. It is the Julliard of China but more than that it operates directly under the PRC’s Ministry of Culture. The hopes and desires of the country (and its sometimes contradictory responsibilities of Culture and Propaganda) and the top young actors of the land, rest and struggle here. In addition to producing a significant number of China’s stage, television and film stars, the Academy introduced a program in musical theater over 10 years ago. But in those days China took small steps slowly, especially at embracing an American art form.
Since 2007 the Central Academy has been my unofficial, and somewhat spiritual, home in Beijing. Here I always felt that the political nuances of the leaders, and the treacherous maneuvers of the joint venture business partners, were left at the gate in the quintessential old hutong village of Nan Luo Gu Xiang. Giving lectures, seeing shows, having chats, sharing food and collaborating with some of the inspired professors and students in my Chinese productions have been grandly rewarding – with everyone learning a lot.

Above, I am honored and humbled to receive a position on the International Faculty of the Central Academy of Drama. (yes, that is Mao behind me!)

Always the best acting school, the academy took significant steps to improve the dance and music programs in the Department of Musical Theater. In a bold step the Academy accepted our suggestion invitation to produce FAME as the college musical in 2009. This was facilitated because the Nederlander organization acquired and provided the license and U.S. creative talent. The musical, produced in Mandarin, performed by Chinese actors was a landmark in musical theater in China. Politically it was a bold experiment and endorsement of the American musical by the leaders of education and culture of the PRC.
It was a hit. The project resonated in the highest circles of government and inspired the next experiment – a professional localized production, in Mandarin, of Mamma Mia by the leading performing arts presenter in China. Suddenly the rules of musical theater and the theatrical industry at large have changed. Below President Xu (my right) and Vice President Liu (my left) hosts the Chair and Vice-Chair the Arts Administration Department (on left), the Chair of the Music Theater Department (on near right) and the foreign affairs coordinators (on far right) to set the next goal of the Academy.

At the conclusion of the meeting President Xu, signed the Tams-Witmark agreement for the college production of the George Gershwin /Ken Ludwig production of the Broadway musical, CRAZY FOR YOU. Such a contract is signed a thousand times a year all over the world without great fanfare. But consider this – in the recent burst of growth in the PRC, never was such a contract signed by the leadership of a major educational institution in China. Never did such an institution take the step to pay over $4,000 USD for the right to perform 40 performances of a Broadway musical - and in that way honor and respect the American authors and the copyright process.

Good for George and Ira. Good for NYC. Good for China.

Fun day!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

TSP produces Peter Buffett's Concert & Conversation in NYC

(seated) Chairman Yan Jiehe, Peter Buffett; (standing left to right) Michael Kott, Shannon Mueller, Don Frantz, Laurie Brown, Elyse Ribbons

On Wednesday, 2/9, Town Square Productions produced Peter Buffett's "Life Is What You Make It - In Concert and Conversation" for China's Huatuo CEO Forum. Their visit to the United States is noted below.


and view here to view in CHINESE