Saturday, June 26, 2010

Show #31 "Brunch" at Tacoma Little Theatre

It's a good thing, to showcase new works by local playwrights. That's one of the mission statements of the production company that Randy and I have started. It's a good thing to see that other theatrical entities have the same idea.

"Brunch" is the work of a local guy, Elliot Weiner. In addition to writing plays, he is also an actor and director. Randy and I stage managed a show he directed last year. It was good to see a Tacoma writer get a venue for his talent.

Unfortunately, the audience was pretty small last evening. I don't know if this is a reflection of the play itself, or of the fact that no one has ever heard of this show. After all, it's not famous like "The Odd Couple" or "The Sound of Music."

If it's the former, then I guess you can say that these performances are a useful tool for the playwright. In Theatre World, we call this "the workshop process." This is when you put together a production of the play (in its latest draft form) and give it a test run before an audience. Then, you wait and see what their reactions are. Do they like it? What do they like/dislike? How would they like to see it re-written or adapted?

But, if the modest-sized crowd was a reflection of the unknown name of the play, then that dismays me greatly. New and unknown should not be a handicap at the box office. If we only put on plays that were famous, then theatres would be constantly re-cycling the same titles year after year. How boring would that be?

I genuinely hope that Tacoma is ready for new and unknown theatre. I don't want to think that we are so culturally behind other cities that we are only going to accept the familiar and "safe."

Or perhaps we in the theatre community need to learn how to woo our audiences more effectively. New is not bad, but our audiences need to know what they're in for. We need to do a better job of telling them.

Here's our challenge: Let's woo the people of Tacoma with good art, good humor, good relationships and great outreach. "Outreach"? Yes, WE must first approach the folks in Tacoma, not the other way around. We need much more than posters and ads in the News Tribune. We need to be where the potential audiences are: at street fairs, community festivals, on the email, on Facebook and at their places of business and leisure.

We can do it. We have to.

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