Wednesday, November 11, 2009

audience amnesty

It's a common confession -- many theater people don't actually see a lot of theater. I'm certainly guilty of it. And some of the people who I think are the best at what we do have also confessed in the past few months that they tend not to see shows, either -- to a truly shocking degree.

It takes a lot of psychic energy to attend a play. It has never been hard wired into American culture, and with instant delivery of entertainment, entire generations have come of age without any inkling to see a live play. Youth theater companies talk about "cultivating an audience" and then couch their terms in education-speak: learning the language of Shakespeare, etc etc etc -- it's not that at all. They're trying to teach kids how to sit still in the dark for an hour.

So I try not to be a jerk about friends and family coming to our shows -- I certainly understand that it takes a lot of effort to go. And that's why the fact that our last show, Third Seat, was in bar was so much fun for the cast as well as the audience.

If I could, I would do every show in a bar. I just might.

But just in case that doesn't pan out, maybe we should always be sure to have a sidebar in the lobby of whatever theater we go to next with booze and pub food. Would that get the people in? And a 310-pound gentle gorilla named Elsie will come to your house and carry you TO the theater like a baby. After she carries the cast in for half hour.

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