Friday, December 14, 2012

Theatre Rants: Is the Internet Killing Live Theatre?

I read a lot of theatre magazines and blogs in the course of my work and like every industry it has it's share of annoying members. There seem to be only five types of theatre articles out there:

  • Reviews of certain shows.
  • History or Biographies
  • People Complaining that the internet is killing it. 
  • People complaining that the industry is dying.
  • People complaining that you can't make money at it.
I don't know how other industries work but it seems that this is true about just about all of the performing arts. When 60% of your articles, that means a majority of your leading professionals are complaining it's very hard to realize that there's hope or a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm not going to go through all of the complaints right now but lets start at the first one.

I personally don't believe that the internet is killing live theatre or performance. For that to be true there would have to be no one willing to go out and see a show. But people still go to gallery openings, people still go out to see their favorite band in concert, and people still go out to eat. Even with streaming video and instant downloads people still go out ot the cinema to see their movies. Everyone used to think that the internet would cause everyone to never leave the house and get all their stuff delivered to them.  But still people leave their homes? So what happened?

People still like going outside the home to get things. They just need a reason to go. And when they leave the experience they get when they arrive has to be something that they never could have gotten at home. People are experiential beings. They need to go out and get something. 

The question it seems that artists need to ask themselves the question, "Do I have a live event which is worth people getting out there to go see?" For a typical family to leave for a show they have to hear about it, get the tickets, hire a babysitter, go out to eat, and then see your show. If your show isn't worth all that time and money then not that many people will like it. 

Back in the day when there wasn't much to compete with the theatre people used to go because that's all they could do. Now there's a lot of things to keep their attention. You just have to offer them something that they can't get at home. You're selling them a night out on the time. Ask yourself what your audience wants on a night out? Where do they go out to eat? What are they doing afterwards? If your show was part of a package deal with a restaurant or other event what would they be? When you know how your show answers these questions then you know if it's worth coming to.

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