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January 16, 2008


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Don Hall

Previews are dress rehearsals with audience.

The audience is providing a service to the show by attending - you don't charge them anything.

This is why I like the "invite only" preview.


I think previews are a very good thing for companies. (and one thing that many tiny companies sorely miss.) There are always things that you don't see until there is an audience in there.

Especially with space issues, if a small company is loading in on Sunday and opening on a Thursday or Friday, the SM may need an extra run to get all the cues down. Often in my experience previews can help in the tech dept. more than anywhere. And hopefully any small kinks aren't worked out in front of critics.

I have no problem opening them up to the general public (at a discount.) Basically saying this is a work in progress, that's why tix are cheaper. "They are cheaper so cut us some slack if a sound cue goes at the wrong time. . ."

It does get problematic (I think Kris previously used the term douch-y) when companies try to have it both ways, not telling the general public it is a preview, and charging full ticket prices.

Then it's not a preview and companies have nothing to complain about.


If and when certain bloggers in Chicago begin to be offered comps to previews as we are here New York gear up for brouhahas similar to the Leonard Jacobs/George Hunka thing a few months ago.

I consider my art journalism as a blogger a different species of writing than the product created by a print reviewer. I am thinking that may be challenged if I write about a certain preview production to which I have been recently invited with comp as “blogger.”

I consider any “ethics” in the dilemma I need to clarify are between the artists involved in show and me. Or more precisely, the contract is between the specific production’s representatives and me. The protocols or ethics that may exist in service journalism need not apply to these new contracts in the blogosphere.


previews are lame...esp. if the ticket isn't cheaper. whatever happened to honesty? everybody needs to get together and talk about this stuff. there should be like a theatre czar or something that sets rules for these kinds of things. everybody should do it the same way.

Nick Keenan

Huh! Interesting! From the feedback I've heard on my end, I think there's quite a few people that actually PREFER to see previews. These folk tend to either see only a few shows a year, or many shows a year, but they seem to find value in the possibility that they'll see an accident, or a change, or a mistake. They also like that their reactions actually can have an impact on the show itself.

This is the same phenomenon that leads to some folks paying or donating for the opportunity to go backstage and see how everything works. That's a brillinat piece of audience involvement and excitement for the craft that I think also needs to be encouraged.

Despite that, I totally get why some folks are miffed about a lower price of ticket not being offered for Preview performances. They absolutely should be labeled (and most small theaters always do, since they're much more worried about audience complaints) Big ticket prices are way too high for some folks. I'd like to see more tiers of seat prices to encourage folks who are well off and the student with the empty pockets to enjoy the same show.

At the same time, I'd also like to see a greater exposure of the audience to both the polished post-opening show and the crazy jumble of creativity that goes on behind the scenes, because most audiences don't really get how wonderful a performance is until they see the scope of the effort that went into it.

When the giant overblown musical stops on a preview performance and the crew has to reset all the motors and line sets and props and the sound, piece by piece - the audience doesn't complain. They lean forward and look at how the whole thing is put together.

I think that's neat.

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

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