"Young people don’t come to the theater anymore! How can we get a young audience?!"
“Young audiences are ruining our theatergoing experience!”
"Young people don’t come to the theater anymore! How can we get a young audience?!"
“Young audiences are ruining our theatergoing experience!”
Your local HugeBigTheatre offers one hundred percent online ticket sales, right? And there’s nothing wrong with that, right? So offering one hundred percent online ticket sales is natural and healthy for all types of theatre productions, right?
Last year, the Toronto Fringe Festival only offered 50% of tickets to a show online. This year, the Toronto Fringe Festival started making 100% of all tickets available online, before the show. It has sparked some lively debate amongst my theatre colleagues. I wanted to more closely examine the issue, because I think it’s an important one.
The requirements set forth by the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals say nothing about ticket sales.
If you are interested in becoming a member of CAFF, consider your responses to the following questions:
- Will your Festival be primarily based around indoor theatre productions?
- Will your Festival be completely uncensored?
- Will applications from theatre companies be accepted through a lottery or on a first-come, first-served basis?
- Will your Festival return 100 percent of the money generated from ticket sales to the artists themselves?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, then CAFF would love to see a proposal from your Festival.
It’s Becoming Common Practice
I did a quick search through some of the major Canadian Fringe Festivals this morning. In all cases where I have 100%? beside a festival, it is because I couldn’t find anything saying that there were limitations on tickets sold online beforehand.
(All Fringe festivals have some sort of time cut off after which you can’t purchase tickets for a given show online. I was looking for a statement similar to “We offer x% of tickets online.”)
It’s Good For The Fringe
Tickets sold online do a few things for the festival itself.
Is It Good For Audiences?
If as an audience member, your goal is to see the biggest hits as validated by the excellent Fringe critics roaming the festival, then this is a perfect system. Without leaving the comfort of your air conditioned home, you can browse the reviews, call up your calendar, review your schedule outside of the theatre, then with a few mouse clicks, a credit card, and some typing, you have got all the tickets you will ever want or need.
If, like me, you are old fashioned and like to chat with people in line ups for shows and discuss the hits, then it gets a bit problematic. There is a certain thrill with talking about a hit show in line and then pumping your legs like hell to get to the next performance of that show before someone else gets your ticket.
So now, word of mouth is more valuable in that it validates you made a proper mouse click. But this seems like a very minor thing to get upset about. Only theatre types seem to find this irksome.
Is It Good For Artists?
For artists who manage to latch onto the cachet of “hit show”, this is great! Easy to sell tickets, easy to collect money, and once your know our show is sold out for the rest of the Fringe, it gives you more time to relax and socialize. Because why would you need to go and hand out flyers and postcards if you are pretty well assured of an audience?
For artists who do not manage to latch onto the cachet of “hit show”, well, what happens to them? Of course they have to work the lines like they always had to. Probably even a bit harder. Adrenaline is a wonderful motivator. Fight or flight, as an artist, the correct answer is almost always fight.
The implied assumption in all this is that there will still be enough people left over as an audience to support all Fringe productions.
Now, I’m no expert on Fringe productions, But, given my general experiences as an audience member, I know some shows do not click for many reasons, despite the best intentions of the production company behind it. Word of mouth and reviewers quickly point out the things most people will not enjoy seeing.
So, here I am, an average audience member. The hit show that got NNNNN and my friends have told me is so good is sold out on the only day and time I can go. What do I do?
I would probably, as an average representative of the theatre-going public, work my way down the list. Can I see this show on another date and time? Can I see a NNNN or NNN show instead? If not…do I want to go see a NN show? Probably not.
Would I have gone to see a NN show if I was at the venue (because I had no prior knowledge of whether my NNNNN show was sold out or not), my car was parked, there was money burning in my wallet for a show ticket anyway, and there were people in line talking about other, more entertaining shows?
Theatre relies on a stable production milieu. The production company and the artists try to provide this, and to put on a pleasing production tor a large number of audience members. Revenue from these audience members in turn pays expenses for the production company and the artists, and hopefully some profit as well. This gives both the theatre and the audience a reason to continue engaging in a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Of course, this is a highly idealized model. Competing entertainment sources like movies and the Internet (e.g. Netflix) mean that the competition to obtain a steady audience is more difficult. Past governments seemed more willing to help fund the arts, but recent governments have shown that even established festivals (e.g. SummerWorks) are not immune to having their funding reduced or totally abolished.
So, with respect to offering 100% of ticket sales online, I am torn. I understand that keeping a stable and valued production company alive (Toronto Fringe) is very important. To that end, 100% online ticket sales is very useful.
For the artists involved in the Fringe, I don’t know. Of course, you always gamble in mounting a production anywhere. And an unpopular show will be unpopular whether you offer 0% or 100% tickets online beforehand.
There’s a general idea that art needs to conform to Darwinian ideals, now that survival has become more difficult, and that bad art should naturally be weeded out.
The danger is that you go too much in the opposite direction and we only see assorted riffs on romance stories between a man and woman with two and a half children, and three quarters of a dog,
I don’t know. When I started this, I was totally against this new policy. When I thought through it, I still didn’t like it, but I can see maybe why it happened.
I do know that the Fringe does need to exist as per the CAFF guidelines up at top of this post, and that artists are very adaptable, because they need to express themselves. I’ll be curious to see any Fringe particpants’ experiences that come out of this.
i have become an old man
enfeebled by supping on the self-interest of others
made up of other peoples’ dreams and fed to me in mincing teaspoons
until last night
when i dreamed a potent dream
and realized my dreams
were infinitely more nourisihing
go sup yourself
The French and Spanish have a different word when you go to a play. You don’t attend it, you assist it.
I was reminded of that during and after seeing jem rolls perform for the first time today.
I almost didn’t make it in. I was second on a waiting list. I almost missed my name being called because I was buying a water. But despite my shortcomings, I did get a ticket.
Any show that gives a special to a toy London doubledecker bus is guaranteed to get a large chunk of my love before it even starts. And then jem rolls came onstage.
Or, blasted onto stage like a supernova. He was at full energy from the first moment on stage, and did not lose energy the whole way through because, like any good performance, he took the energy we gave to him and multiplied it.
Assist at a play. Remember?
I’m not going to try and describe this poetic assault on the mind and heart. It needs to be seen live to appreciate it. So do so. Assist and be assisted.
Krzysztof Kieślowski’s grave, Powązki Cemetery, Warsaw. Thanks to K. Thomas Kahn.
There are mysteries, secret zones in each individual. —Krzysztof Kieślowski
On March 13, 1996, the self-effacing Polish film maker, Krzysztof Kieślowski, died of heart failure in a Warsaw hospital. The film world mourned, especially when it was revealed that Kieślowski, who had been retired since the completion of Red in 1994, was contemplating a return to work with a new trilogy of films about heaven, hell, and limbo. What we are left with in the wake of the director’s passing, however is an extraordinary résumé that includes such memorable features as Camera Buff, Decalogue, The Double Life of Veronique, and the Three Colors trilogy (Blue, White, Red). Less than a year before his death, Kieślowski, agreed to be the subject of a short documentary by his long-time assistant, Krzysztof Wierzbicki. The hour long film, which was made for Danish television, featured Kieślowski’s recollections of his life and movies, along with several candid shots of the director relaxing and enjoying his retirement. What was initially intended as a fairly inconsequential interview unwittingly turned into a remarkable tribute.
The title comes from Kieślowski’s belief that people should not lie about how they’re feeling just for the sake of polite conversation. As a result, when someone asks him how he’s doing, instead of replying “Well” or “Very well”, he says “I’m so-so.” In truth, however, there’s nothing “so-so” about this particular motion picture. Krzysztof Kieślowski: I’m So-So is a striking picture of an extraordinary man who made some of the most powerful films of the last two decades. This movie will live alongside the director’s body of work as an important and informative companion piece. —James Berardinelli
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The buzz in the cramped meeting room was like the buzz of twenty five starved locusts with a field of amber wheat almost in sight. A handpicked group of journalists had been invited to listen to Rob Ford speak, his first public speaking engagement in two months.
It was 3:28. Ford had been scheduled to show up at 3 p.m., but even two months in rehab had not cured his habitual lateness, it seemed. They didn’t care. They would camp out until the next morning to get those sweet sound and video bites from either of the Ford brothers.
Suddenly a noise swelled outside the tiny, packed room. The door flew open. A bodyguard walked in and then, just behind him, the first glimpse of Rob Ford in City Hall in over two months.
He looked good. He had truly lost weight. He walked to the podium, the only noise in the room being the soft whirr of his Italian leather shoes on the carpet.
Rob stood behind the podium and looked over the journalists. He smiled, unbuttoned the top button of his dark blue golf shirt, and began to speak.
"Here I stand." He grasped the sides of the podium. "I haven’t been this fit since football camp. And I am back. Back for good."
He paused to pour himself a glass of water. “I learned a lot in rehab. About bad habits, about how my friends were affecting my choices. About how I needed to move on and make better choices. And,” he said, patting his belly, “it’s clear I have.”
Rob raised his gaze, looking at the ceiling. A couple of the journalists also looked, but all they saw was a ceiling.
Tears began to form in Rob’s eyes. He blinked them back. “But I learned something else, a long time ago, from my dad.” He lowered his head and narrowed his eyes, and looked at every journalist there.
"He taught me to never quit. And now that I feel better than I have in years, I am going to take his advice."
Rob leaned forward. “No more Mister Nice Guy!” His face started turning red. “No more kid gloves! Rob Ford is back, and he’s back to take charge! No questions!”
Rob Ford’s bodyguards cleared a path. The doors to the room were then locked for ten minutes. Then twenty five journalists rushed out to try and report this however they could.
Be it resolved that the sole purpose of a Canadian citizen is to extract oil from whatever inconvenient natural storage place it finds itself in
And moreover, that this process only requires strong muscles and an ability to follow the orders of their betters
And that this in no way requires education and culture, except as how these two things could improve the extraction of said oil reserves
Be it resolved that we, the people of this country, shall
- abolish the CBC, as it no longer broadcasts hockey
- abolish all science except for petroleum science
- stop any dangerous radicals, like the Green Party, who would try to subvert this process
- sell off or stop maintaining all aspects of our archived heritage materials, except for those detailing hockey or petroleum heroes, and the less seditious Stephen Leacock stories
- ignore all Native treaties and whatever Native rights still exist, as being barriers to progress
- enshrine the principles established by the Fathers of Confederation, and then forget them, especially the parts about being concerned about invasions from America
We the undersigned do hereby agree to this new manifesto, or by our lack of action against it achieve the same ends.
Rob Ford June 30th
I love Toronto. I especially love twenty-seven percent of you for remembering me. Remembering the guy who stopped the gravy train. The guy who abolished the Vehicle Registration tax. But most of all, the guy who brought the subway to Scarborough.
It hasn’t been easy, fighting the tax and spend commies who want to tear this city down by wasting money on seniors and day care. In fact, it has been very stressful. And I let the stress get to me. So much so that I needed to go to rehab.
After spending these two months, more or less, in rehab, a place I went to because I love Toronto and want to be the mayor you know will always do the right thing for you, after this time in rehab, I am completely cured. I will never take drugs, alcohol, overeat, or lie again.
I apologize to anyone who is gay or not white by any comments I may have made before entering rehab. My mind was cloudy before going voluntarily into rehab, but now I can see how sensitive people might have allowed themselves to overreact to what I said. Rehab has shown me the light. Rehab.
So this October, vote for the new Rob Ford. A stronger, healthier Rob Ford. I will still need your help and understanding in the days ahead, not because I am going to relapse, no, I need your help and understanding as I stand up to the leftist media and their puppet candidates.
To this end, on days when I am not at City Hall, know that I will be somewhere planning on how to make Toronto the best city in the world.
No questions. Especially from The Star.
Our tax and spend critics repeatedly make statements that The Austerity Party is anti-environment. That our policies in this area are weak, and that we don’t care about frackers and oil drillers and nuclear safety.
Our response is the same as it always has, and always will be: Less Is More.
Can man affect the environment? Studies on this are unclear. More studies would cost more money. Spending money unnecessarily runs against everything The Austerity Party stands for.
At the end of the day, ask yourself: Is there still meat at the butcher’s? Are there vegetables in cans? Can I still drink the water? We ask ourselves the same questions every day, and so far the answers have been very positive.
The Austerity Party: Less Is More.
With our education reforms discussed, it is time to turn to the second plank of our political platform. Jobs.
We recognize that 100% employment is not realistic. Even with our Free and Ruling Streams of education, there will always be someone too lazy to work. However, we feel that in a modern industrial society, this is unacceptable. We cannot remain competitive as a nation if lazy entitled poor people start clogging up our cities.
Therefore, we propose two employment streams: Paid and Volunteer.
Paid jobs will remain the same as they are now. You will receive money in the same way, and get taxed in the same way. If you are willing to work, The Austerity Party is ready to help you.
Volunteer jobs will allow those people who are scared of work the opportunity to explore new segments of the required work in an industrial world. Chemical purification plants, sewers, clean up of biohazardous and/or radioactive waste — these are but a few of the exciting opportunities others will not be able to experience unless they are in the Volunteer stream.
People in the Volunteer stream will receive basic food and shelter, and every Sunday those in the Volunteer Camps who are artists will entertain the group with performances containing approved material. After five years in the Volunteer stream, people can apply to transfer to the Paid stream as long as they have eight sponsors from outside the Volunteer stream.
A simple, effective job plan. Truly, less is more.