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June 19, 2007


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Paul Rekk

I have written (and will be writing) further thoughts on my newly christened blog as well, but to the gist of things:

While Hunka's statement is idealized silliness, I do see an only slightly tangential point that all of this focus on marketing and pulling in audiences is a slope quite slippery, not because of some high-falutin' "we don't need to market ART" philosophy, but because it is a little derived from the oh so current American and all points beyond "more, More, MORE!" vein of commercialism.

At what point are we seeking new minds to join us in a cultural dialogue and at what point are we just trying to sell tickets? And my big question, at what point do we acknowledge that our houses are not empty and stop backhanding our current patrons?

Kris Vire

Paul, that's an interesting response. You think attempts to expand to new audiences are somehow insulting to current audiences?

Several weeks ago I saw a show at a Sunday matinee that turned out to be one of the best things I've seen all year. There were four people in the house counting myself. Should that theater company just roll over and sigh and be content with performing to four people? Should they congratulate us four for being smart enough and cool enough to attend their show? Well, perhaps. A pat on the back and a "please tell your friends" is worthwhile, but I'm not going to be offended if the company keeps trying to fill the seats around me. Theater isn't supposed to be a secret society.


There are a lot of examples of bad marketing, where it takes over the company--like doing a show solely because you think it'll get butts in the seats.

But if you truly believe in your work, why would you not want as many people as possible to see it? Especially if you see your work as part of a larger discussion.

Paul Rekk

Oh no, expanse isn't an insult, it's all this talk of the dire state of things and references to 'empty' houses that is -- or could be, anyway.

I'll try to be brief here, as this is exactly what I hope to expand upon on my own blog, but a question I have for the members of the blogosphere that are in a particular tizzy is exactly which demographic they are so concerned with attracting -- The Sopranos crowd or the (for the sake of argument, let's say) American Idol crowd.

I'm honestly not trying to be snooty here, but if the theatre's inability to attract the latter is considered one of its foremost problems, then I think it is a bit (but, yeah, only a bit) insulting to our current audience. Not because they're better or more intelligent than non-theatregoers, but because they're apparently not as sought after since they don't need to be wooed as much.

And a brief sidenote: if the show you're referencing is the show I'm fairly certain you're referencing, you'll be happy to hear that it rewarded the company with their first official sell-out crowd last weekend. It's heartening to know that the numbers are there from time to time, at least.


I don't know what it is about this blog or the conversations in the blogosphere lately that make me want to reference 80's movies and Elvis songs, but ...

"If you build it, they will come."

I think that's absolutely right. If the strong brick is laid in the foundation (I'm referencing Don's post from last year), the critics will notice, the people in the production will be proud, and word of mouth will start its work for free.

Theatre companies need to do their initial legwork to get their core audience and press in the seats, sure, but, as Don has also stated in his producing class, a maven is an amazing thing to have at a company's side to help generate that word of mouth.

The theatre company may start out with 4 people in the seat ... and how special that only 4 people were able to see a one-time only piece of live theatre that so many others missed ... but because of positive word of mouth and decent reviews, they were able to pack the house by the end of their run.

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  • Kris Vire
    I write about theater for Time Out Chicago. I write more about it here.

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