Life After Print: PART FIVE

The fifth and final installment in our series on the future of theatre during the death of print media:
4.    Should we be doing anything to change or encourage the change?

Rebecca Coleman: If traditional journalists are changing the way they write stories, then so do we have to adapt. Embrace the revolution!!

Sue Porter:
This a cross-discipline issue, so I think we need to get more cooperative with the music and dance and visual arts communities to develop alternative means of promotion.

Tom Cone: To change requires a re-thinking in how to sell a production.  A new imagination is required. DEFY PRINT.  If you get any let it be the dessert.

Nathan Medd: What I have tried to do is to keep guessing who’d be interested in a particular show, find out where their eyes are, and be there when they look.  In 2005 at Intrepid Theatre in Victoria, we presented The Black Rider.  Three weeks out, I built a profile in a local goth chatroom and started plugging the costume design as hard as I could.  I went to the music chatrooms and talked up Tom Waits.  We started building excitement in the communities that were likely to care about the work, and since the show was good too, we managed to sell it out through single tickets.

J Kelly Nestruck: Theatres need to find new ways to connect with their communities they are based in. How? I don’t know. But theatre has survived so much – the collapse of ancient Greek civilization, the Puritans, the advent of cinema, Beta, VHS, DVD and the internet –  the death of print is nothing to worry about.

Further thoughts…?

Tom Cone: Remember the Federal election in the fall?  Remember the arts fighting back? The same can be done with selling a production.  Put your advertising budgets in videos hitting a number of demographic blogs.  It will inspire word of mouth -still the best way to sell a show.

Nathan Medd: We had fun redesigning our website this spring – we included a module for people to leave comments on shows, like on news sites, plus twitterfeeds on the news and contact pages. The result seems to be an audience that is engaged and aware of how active we are, even when we aren’t on the stage performing to them. In sports, fans expect now to be led behind the scenes, into the practice rink, into the gym, into the locker room, for immediate and in-depth access.  I want to build that sense of access in our audience too, because ultimately we are entertainment, same as sports.
The only other thing I’ll add, is something that has been running around my mind lately… I find that just as many people come to Electric Company shows for our name than for the title of our shows.  I realize that we need to be promoting our theatre events more like a rock band than a play.  I go to see a group like Crystal Castles or Radiohead not because I care what their latest album is called, but because they kicked ass last time and I know they will again…

So what does all this mean?  What I have learned in my recent social media education is it is time for us to break out the creativity.  It’s true, the old ways of marketing a show really might completely disappear.  But there is still an audience out there to be reached.  And as with creating art, the biggest chance might just reap the greatest reward.  Explore.  Experiment.  Share with each other.
Stay tuned for what happens next…

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