Thesis: A group of actors, with very little infrastructure, can create audience engaging, artistically satisfying events.
The Actors Salon is a group of actors who gather a few times a year to produce well rehearsed, lightly blocked staged readings in function rooms at restaurants and similar spaces. Audience members are encouraged to show up as for a cocktail party. The actors meet and mingle with the audience before and after the performance. The event includes a cash bar. For most of their events, they do not choose admission; although the ones where they have charged a modest price were as well attended as the free ones.
Learn more about them here:
Most of the plays they’ve done have been rarely produced American classics, although the one event I managed to attend was a new play by DC area playwright Allyson Currin. They have a loyal audience drawn mostly from the ranks of regular DC playgoers, but I believe their model could be easily used to create events to draw new playgoers.
They also currently operate under a non-profit structure, but there is room within this producing model to create a small commercial venture. I’m convinced someone could put together events of this sort – probably with shorter works – and market them as dinner party entertainment or corporate staff appreciation event amenities.
What the Actors Salon example proves to me is that even an essentially design free, on book performance can create value for an audience and valuable acting experience for the artists involved. I think of this as light-on-its-feet theatre, and am convinced there are lots of opportunities to use variations on it to broaden the live theatre ecosystem.