Theatre Bay Area Chatterbox

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

OF: 9

"Audiences have a different assumption of participation in larger theatres. Can anyone talk about how that happens"
A [from audience, a playwright]: I'm working with a theatre on a new play and we involved the audiences and communities from the beginning over a period of 2 years and 5 workshops. That's a way I felt directly connected to a community that will feel pumped up about seeing this work. It has to start early on, it has to be part of the theatre's mission statement. It has to be laid into the foundation of the theatre. Also developed a work with a smaller theatre that invites audiences very early on in the process. They have suggestions and I took a few notes. It's a way for those theatres to keep a constant dialogue with those audiences. We could learn from the direct participation of American Idol.

"What would it be for a playwright to write to an audience?"
A: Everyone means different things by this. Some ADs say that my job is to learn how to understand my audience. I have a dialogue with them we push each other. Sometimes it's that I live in a working class neighborhood so upper West Side plays don't work. The playwrights say that no one knows their audience unless they try it. If you do know your audience you'd have a hit every time. There's no way to answer this completely. [Different definitions of audiences.]

"When a movie is produced, they market it to *an* audience, not *the* audience. It seems if you did the former, you'd expand audiences."
A: On the subject of marketing & aud devo, it describes a feeling form playwrights that theatres aren't doing it successfully. The theatres know this, have fallen into a bind of subscription season. But playwrights also say that marketing departments doesn't want to hear from them about how to market their play, unless they're a playwright of color. Playwrights haven't been part of the larger conversation about audience development.

Break time, our authors are leaving. Convo continues after break with audience.

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