How We Launched Our First Kickstarter Campaign, in 10 Improbable Images

In April, London-based theater company Improbable launched their first project. Here, they share an inside look at their process.

Kickstarter Magazine
4 min readMay 7, 2019


Anthony Roth Constanzo in “Akhnaten.” Support Improbable’s live Kickstarter campaign to help them make new works of opera and music theater

Kickstarter just turned 10. This photo essay by the team at the Improbable—a London-based theater company that strives to make contemporary opera and music theater more current, conscious, and inclusive—is part of a series that celebrates past projects and introduces a few new ones. Read more here.

It starts with a dream.

Future Sounds has been a very long time in the making — we’ve been dreaming up new opera and music theater projects for ages. We wanted to make new things with Philip Glass and Joyce DiDonato; invite community responses to our production of Akhnaten; hold a Devoted and Disgruntled discussion about the future of music theater and opera…

“Panic,” Lucy Foster, Phelim McDermott, and Matilda Leyser. Photo: Keith Pattison

But how could we make it happen? Where would the support and the money come from?

We get a helping hand from a Kickstarter insider.

In the fall of 2017, we met Jessica Massart, Senior Performance Outreach Lead at Kickstarter. We talked to her about our ideas, and she helped us shape them into a campaign (including vetoing terrible campaign name suggestions like “NEWsic” and “Improbable iTunes.” Thanks, Jess!).

“Opening Skinner’s Box,” Paschale Straiton. Photo: Topher McGrillis

It’s time to start putting the pieces together…

The next few months were spent plotting and wrangling all the elements of the campaign. It got messy at times. How do you talk about four projects over three years in just 500 words? How do you coordinate incredibly busy performers from around the world for a campaign video? And how do you handle the nerves and excitement?!

“70 Hill Lane,” Phelim McDermott. Photo: Sheila Burnett

Including nailing the rewards.

We asked the wonderful artist Marit Baarslag if she would help us create some rewards for the campaign. Not only did she say yes, she knocked it out of the park. She created “the spirit of Future Sounds in a bottle” (a teeny book with a silkscreen cover inside a miniature bottle), some paintings inspired by the program, and even a commemorative egg cup. An egg cup!

“BambinO,” Hazel McBain. Photo: James Glossop

It’s all coming together.

The campaign video was nearly complete; the projects we planned to produce were in the pipeline; the rewards were in place. We were so close!

“Akhnaten,” Anthony Roth Constanzo and Emma Carrington. Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

Things were taking shape.

But who would we get to narrate our video?

That’s right, we tapped the Jim Broadbent — of Moulin Rouge, The Iron Lady, Hot Fuzz, a couple of the Harry Potter films, and so much more.

And while he was here, we had a little fanboy moment.

It’s launch time.

Finally, the big day arrived: April 15, 2019. A final Skype call with the ever-patient Jess, and we hit that big “Launch” button. Blastoff!

“Sticky.” Photo: Nick Read and Richard Haughton

We start feeling the love.

In the first 24 hours, we made just over 10 percent of our funding goal and were absolutely overwhelmed with gratitude for everyone who’d helped us get a flying start. Hearts all around.

“CosÌ Fan Tutte.” Photo: Mike Hoban

We’re still going — and we’d love for you to come along for the ride.

As we write this, we’re a quarter of the way to our goal. We hope you’ll join us, and help us leap into the future of opera and music theater.

“Aida,” Alison Halstead. Photo: Tristram Kenton

Support Improbable’s live Kickstarter campaign to help them create new work in collaboration with Phillip Glass, Joyce DiDonato, and Anthony Roth Costanzo. It ends on May 15.



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