Thesis: Adherents to a hobby define their relationship to a hobby partly through swag – collectibles and ephemera related to their activity. Theatre companies could create swag around their productions or seasons to provide audience members additional hooks in to the hobby.
Dog and Pony DC’s current show A Killing Game includes a bunch of props that are presented as potential ingredients for a crisis survival kit. There are things like a dust mask, a roll of duct tape, and a fur coat. In the course of a performance, audience members are asked to think about, compete for, and even hold some of these items.
More details about the show at:
For a variety of reasons, the company hands audience members a program on the way out of the play space rather than on the way in. Tucked into each program is a business card with the name and image of one of the potential ingredients on one side and a return visit discount opportunity on the other.
What makes this potentially collectible is that different audience members receive different items. I got duct tape in my program and picked up a dropped dust mask from the lobby floor. Some audience members could decide they wanted to collect the whole set.
This is by no means a new idea. For hundreds of years, Japanese theatre was supported by a whole side industry producing wood block prints of actors playing roles. The behavior of collecting objects related to theatrical performances is out there in human culture.
You could invent many variations on this basic idea, and I hope people will. I’ll supply one more as an example. Let’s imagine three companies in the same geography each producing three plays during a theatrical season. The three companies could collaborate to commission an image from a local visual artist. They could have that image printed on card stock and cut into nine puzzle pieces. Audience members attending each of the nine productions would find their programs stuffed with one of the puzzle pieces.
Has the potential to help audience members make a connection between the shows of one company over a season and gives them a stronger sense of the vitality and interconnectedness of the theatre scene in their town. Even if someone attends only one of the nine productions, he or she gets the sense that there is more to the puzzle and more to the theatre scene.
To create a bit of an incentive, audience members presenting completed puzzles might receive one free drink at an end of season celebration happy hour jointly hosted by the three companies.
Any more examples of making your work more collectible?
Self ordained chaplain of the American theatre.
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