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The online home of the Central Focus

The online home of the Central Focus

A New Web Spun

How Richard’s social media spun a new web for The Spotlight Players
Thespians at Thescon standing around the Richard table, in shock of how overwhelmingly cute Richard is. This huge crowd formed after The Spotlight Plays reformed their one act at Thescon. Photo courtesy of The Spotlight Players instagram.

Junior Aubrey Simpson takes out her phone and flashes a big smile while she poses with a blue crocheted spider for a picture. The spider’s plastic eyes shine with the flash of the camera and the purple sparkles within its eyes sparkle even brighter as Simpson captures the pure adorableness that the spider radiates.

Simpson is The Spotlight Player’s communication officer this year and is in charge of running their Instagram account. The spider Simpson was posing with was a Richard, a stuffed crocheted spider that is sold to raise money for the troupe and all of their activities. 

Troupe Director Kimberly Harrsion explains that Richard the Spider has become popular within the theatre community at FHC. 

“Richard the Spider has become the theatre’s mascot,” Mrs. Harrison said. 

Richard did not always hold this status however. Richard was once simply a fun inside joke within the theatre that was then sold at the St. Louis Renaissance Faire when the Spotlight Players would perform there. 

“He was originally sold as a way to raise money for the theatre,” Mrs. Harrison said.

Richard the Spider was simply another source of income for the theatre, but he would soon become the theatre’s main source of money. Richard even tagged along with the Spotlight Players to their state competition and conference, Thescon, according to senior Savannah Heinz, the previous year’s social media manager. 

 “Richards were brought to Thescon [The Missouri State Theatre Convention] kind of by accident because [Mrs.] Harrsion brought 100 and thought we would probably not sell any, but she brought them anyway. We started performing [our one act] at Thescon and posting [the Richards on our Instagram] and they sold out almost instantly. They literally sold out [as] Mrs. Harrison was making them,” Heinz said. 

Simpson said that every time she went to the booth, the Richards were completely sold out, and Mrs. Harrison was actively making more. 

“They were being sold as Mrs. Harrison would make them. Like she would finish one, set it down, and in a second it would be gone with cash in its place,” Simpson said. 

The thespians at Thescon went crazy for Richard! Heinz said that the reactions and craze surrounding the Richards were completely unexpected. 

“That’s kinda been Richard’s story the entire time. Richard has kind of just been this surprise you know. He’s here, and then he’s gone, because he sold out,” Heinz said.

Richard the Spider would continue to wow and amaze all of the Spotlight Players. Richard became so popular at Thescon because of the theatre’s Instagram. 

“We tagged a lot of people and promoted a lot through Instagram. [Richards] would pop up so much on Instagram that people [recognized him as Thescon continued throughout the week]. Social media [became] our vessel to push Richard to become the next big thing,” Heinz said. 

So many people were interested in buying their own Richard, that the Spotlight Players felt it necessary to open an official website to sell them. 

“We had a lot of people asking us [through instagram] if we had websites so [they] could [buy Richards] online, and it just made sense as a natural next step [to open a website],” Mrs. Harrison said. 

Not only did The Spotlight Players increase in activity on social media lead to a Richard website and business being created, but it also created a lot of new opportunities for The Spotlight Players. 

This is a treasure box overflowing with Richards. This treasure box was on display at The Spotlight Player’s booth at the St. Louis Renaissance Faire. Photo Courtesy of The Spotlight Players instagram.

“[Social media] has just exposed our theatre troupe to more publicity so more companies can [contact] us and give us opportunities. For example, our troupe was invited to do an improv class for The Improv Shop STL, (a professional improv company in St. Louis),” Simpson said. 

The money that social media has brought in from selling Richards has also brought the Spotlight Players a huge new budget. 

“In the past we’ve only spent about $4,000 each show. We had to really pinch every penny. The selling of Richards has enabled us to offer multiple scholarships to college. We were able to send 10 people last year to Thescon free of charge, [a conference that would cost $500 per person minimum]. We [are now] able to do pretty much whatever we want [for a show],” Mrs. Harrison said. 

Heinz dove deeper into how a bigger budget has specifically affected the shows that The Spotlight Players put on throughout the school year. 

“We’ve gotten way bigger technical aspects, including fancier lights, which not only help our theatre, but it also helps our school because they host a lot of events in our theatre. We have other technical aspects like revolves, and we can do better and bigger shows like ‘The Lighting Thief; A Percy Jackson Musical’, or just any shows we may want to do that would require a bigger royalty fee,” Heinz said. 

Social media has had a huge impact on The Spotlight Players’ success. Their shows have become bigger, better, and more advanced tech wise because of their increase in budget. They have been able to financially support many students, and have been able to better their troupe overall, all because of a crocheted spider. 

Simpson recommends that all clubs and sports have their own social media account. 

“Any club or sport wanting to increase their social media presence [should] post for absolutely everything. It doesn’t always have to be a full post, it can just be a story. If you post for events, whether it be a story or an actual post, it gets people seeing your content in your club or sport more often,” Simpson said. 

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