Theatre Bay Area Chatterbox

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Drinking the Night Away - A Cautionary Tale

So, I'm sitting in the Geary last night, watching the first half of At Home at the Zoo, and I keep getting these random whiffs of scotch in my nose. Very confusing--I wondered if someone around me was simply at the performance so much against their will that they had to get drunk first, or what. But it turns out the explanation was much more mundane: there was guy with a full-on two inches of scotch in a glass two seats down, sipping it nice as you please.

It made me wonder, in this era of trying to break down barriers to attendance (things like allowing people to bring drinks into the theatre) how do we identify and deal with the unintended consequences? Not that the guy was belligerent or unpleasant in any way--not even that he spilled or broke his glass or whatever. Simply that snorting scotch in the theatre wasn't something I'd envisioned with my Albee, and it took me just slightly out of the experience every time I caught the smell. As a marketer, this unintended consequence gave me pause--I'm a big proponent of things like drinks in the theatre, texting during shows--anything that is, generally speaking, a relatively minor change to theatre etiquette--but how fascinating when a "minor change" so directly and unexpectedly affects others.

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