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Follow Friday: 25 June 2010

06.25.10 | 2 Comments


CATEGORIES conversation starter, follow friday, funding and support, ideas, marketing, rabble rousing, social media, theatrical ecosystem

These are the stories we’ve been following at 2amt this week: Chicago vs New York, development vs marketing, pricing too low vs too fair, theatre vs rock, patrons vs fans, competition vs opportunity, funding vs accessibility, -er vs -re. We even use some naughty words, mainly because they’re funny. Also, coffee is for closers.

Tanya Saracho on the cover
Talk about a woman on the verge. If you haven’t heard her name yet, you will very soon. Her work has been simmering in Chicago for some time, but now, with a featured interview session at last week’s TCG 2010 conference, a commission from Steppenwolf and the addition of El Nogalar, a show inspired by Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard to the Goodman Theatre‘s season, it’s probably safe to say that she has arrived.

Kris Vire on squandering capital
As Kris puts it, if Chicago is the theatre capital everyone says it is, why doesn’t it start acting like it? The talk swirls around whether or not the Writers’ Theatre’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by David Cromer, will transfer elsewhere. Will it move within the Chicago city limits? Or the New York City limits? Kris wonders if that’s such a good idea. Robert Bullen follows up on his ideas and asks what can be done about them. And Isaac Butler in New York suggests importing ideas and concepts from the Chicago theatre instead of “freeze-dried” productions transferred whole.

Jacob Coakley on Arena’s next stage
Playwrights on the payroll? Crazy talk. Playwrights involved in all aspects of the theatre? Insanity. Cats will lie down with dogs, llamas will rain down from the heavens…what? Someone actually did it? Get out. No, they’re not going to wear three-piece suits and be trapped in cubicles. (Yes, people have actually commented and complained about that.) Check out this explanation of Arena Stage’s American Voices New Play Institute and residency program. Then set up a program like it at your theatre, we dare you.

Devon Smith on top of the world
Once again, our resident mayor of social media in theatre has some numbers for you. Above is a link to her presentation at the TCG 2010 conference last weekend in Chicago, Social Media Strategy: Why ROI Isn’t Enough. You could also listen to her interview with the Technology in the Arts website. Or you could read her rant against Facebook (sort of). Or you could hire her and make the rest of us jealous.

Alan M. Berks on the conference of big shoulders
Speaking of the TCG 2010 conference, do you wish you’d been there? Check out this post by Alan M. Berks, editors of the Minnesota Playlist magazine. It’s an excellent distillation of what went down in the windy city last weekend. And it’s only part one! For another perspective, read Seth Boustead’s take on the conference from a musicians’ and composers’ angle.

Chris Ashworth on whether the pricing’s right
We’ve talked a lot about price and value here, and most recently about dynamic pricing. Chris Ashworth, the man who brought the world QLab, shares the lessons he learned about how to price the software, and how the customer is always right. (And if you think the customer wanted it to be cheaper, you really need to read this post.) Chris also shares his competitive advantage: he hires artists. Wise man.

Charles Isherwood says the stars are bright on Broadway
After this year’s Tony Awards, actor Hunter Foster started a Facebook community called Give the Tonys Back to Broadway. And while this season–and this year’s awards–were a little more Hollywood celebrity heavy than usual, these are still actors and performers. There’s no manifest destiny that says working and toiling in regional theatre and NYC entitles you to a part in a Broadway play. Charles Isherwood notes the fluidity with which British actors move from stage to screen to television to radio and back again, and he wonders what we can learn from their example.

Don Hall on the dole
At this point, all I have to do is say the phrase “Chase Community Giving,” and half the room will cheer while the other half sharpens its pitchforks. Guess which half of the room Don Hall’s sitting in. But he goes even farther, pointing out how often we slip into sale pitches when we should let our work speak for itself. Is he just being angry, or do you think he’s got a point?

Mariah MacCarthy on rocking on
“I think the music was an accident – not an accident, but it was one of several choices where I looked at possibilities and it was like, well I could do theater, but that’s not as immediate a connection… and it’s a lot of logistics and work. And I think, you know, I wanted to be at an art party with as many friends as possible. And this was the way to do it.”Amanda Fucking Palmer
Not the first time we’ve come across a post pointing out what the world of theatre could learn from Amanda Palmer, probably not the last. But this one wasn’t written by Dan Granata. Proof that great minds think alike. And like good music. And see the potential in bringing those worlds, those experiences, together.

Scot Covey on fanning flames & inflaming fans
How do you engage with your patrons? Do you talk with them or at them? Do you actually use the word “patron” to describe them? Shouldn’t they be “fans?” Scot Covey points out even more lessons from the world of rock music. He doesn’t mention Amanda, but we won’t hold that against him.

Chad Bauman on making the existing model obsolete
A wonderful post that distills a lot of the ideas that came out of last week’s TCG conference, as well as ideas we’ve highlighted here, from dynamic pricing to community engagement, questions of subscription models and funding vs. accessibility. If you haven’t been reading Chad’s blog, you should fix that. Also, throw out your mop. Trust me.

Martin Denton dislikes Facebook
Everyone’s heard about the privacy issues, the regular reformatting of the page design, all the sheep you found in Farmville and the cannoli you left in Mafia Wars. But the real reason Martin Denton’s leaving Facebook might surprise you.

Adam Thurman on being available
You’ve heard all about your “core audience,” and you probably do your best to protect that core, right? You nurture them, you cater to them, you do what you can to keep them in the fold. What if that’s not enough? How do go beyond that group? Can you? Will you? Why would you? One question Adam Thurman seems to ask here is, why wouldn’t you?

Karen Greco says Dubai, should we say hello?
What exactly is the role of the critic? Is it to provide an opinion on the quality of a show–hopefully informed but an opinion nonetheless–or is it to be a booster for the theatre community no matter what? Should your show be open to all critics, or should you only invite those already predisposed towards your work? Karen takes a look at some recent critical brickbats and considers the alternative.

Chris Wilkinson on the defensive
Next question. How should you respond to criticism? Assuming the critical reaction is legitimate, honest criticism, do you as an artist engage with the critic or attack? Chris Wilkinson of the Guardian looks at a few more recent examples of artists gone wild.

James Sims makes the goddamned point
David Mamet appeared on The Colbert Report the other week to promote his new book, Theatre. In so doing, he claimed that theatre is dead, that Broadway is only producing comedies that weren’t funny 40 years ago and more. Maybe he was slipping into the satirical vibe of the show. Maybe he didn’t mean it. Then again, fucker spells theatre with an “-re,” the fuck does he know?

And to finish with a quote from the ever-quotable (and often in ALL CAPS) Travis Bedard,

Reformation or revolution isn’t a new way to enable you to keep doing what you’re doing. It means ACTUAL change.

Buckminster Fuller would approve.

Coffee time. Watch out for falling llamas.

David J. Loehr

David J. Loehr

Writer / Producer, The Incomparable Radio Theater :: Artist-in-Residence / Producer, Riverrun Theatre Company, Madison, Indiana :: Artistic Director / Editor, 2amt :: Panelist, The Incomparable podcast :: Husband, father, cat owner, cat bed.
David J. Loehr

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    If you spell theatre with an “re,” should you spell fucker “fuckre”?

  • Thanks, 2amt, for covering the action around Arena Stage. It made me smile to see the comment about the complaints. It's been remarkable to watch the reactions to the work we are doing ripple around the field. The vast, vast majority are supportive and engaging us on the level of the actual inquiry– the purpose of the work. And it's inspiring (not to mention instructive) to see what others are doing in response. It's a great big community of shared interest there. And yes, there's a steady, stubborn minority of malcontents that are made so uncomfortable by changes like this popping up in the Institutionalized Theater model that they cannot resist tearing at it.

    One thing I'm having to explain all over the place is that the residencies are not actually prohibitively expensive to replicate. It's basically a mid-level salary, benefits, and the amount of development support we'd typically spend to advance new work we were interested in producing. I think if those elements are scaled to each organization's budget size, they become really feasible in many communities. The hope is that there will start to be more and more, in residence in different settings, who can then work together to help refine and advance the practice around the field.


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