Scheduling one show at a time

February 24, 2009
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Some of the Indy area's newer theater companies have been announcing new productions on a show-by-show basis. This allows them to react quickly, to get a show up when it's ready, and to live within their often very-limited means. On the other hand, it can be difficult for the public to keep track of what's going on where.

A sampling:

Actors Theatre of Indiana is committed to a fairly long run (by local standards) of the spoof revue "Forbidden Broadway" April 2-May 13. Oak Hill Mansion in Carmel is the venue and the intimate setting could help make this more satisfying and fun than the touring production that played Clowes Hall last year.

Heartland Actors Repertory Theatre will be taking over the new Indy Fringe space on Mass Ave. for Neil LaBute's play "In a Dark Dark House." It runs March 20-April 4, with tickets only $15 if you buy before March 13.

A fledgeling company, Indianapolis New Art Theater, currently has Adam Bock's play "The Typographer's Dream" running at the CTI space at the Junior Achievement Center. Don't be confused by the fact that CTI stands for Children's Theatre Institute. This isn't kids' theater.

Wisdom Tooth Theatre Company, out of Anderson, will be bringing it's production of "Nickel and Dimed" to Theatre on the Square March 6-14. This sort of mini-tour could be the wave of the future for small theater companies looking to amortize productions.

My question: How far in advance do you like to know about a show you might see? Does it matter to you if a theater announces an entire season? Or are you the kind of person who decides on Friday what you are going to see Saturday?

Your thoughts?
  • I am curious what other people think about today's question.

    I think I approach it differently than a lot of other people because I am trying to see, AND write about in a timely manner, as much live theatre in the Indianapolis area as I can.

    So...I used to be a person who always went places on a whim, but now I pin down my calendar at least a month in advance so that I know what I'm going to have to miss. I want it to be a deliberate choice based on all of my options, rather than a random heartbreak. There is so much live theatre going on in the Indy area that I always have to miss something.

    I have also learned that I not only need to schedule the shows, I need to block out the writing time. Yes, I could see six shows a week, but when would I write about them AND do a good job at my day job AND stay reasonably healthy AND have some sort of social/spiritual life outside my life as a blogger/theatre goer?

    Lately, I have even been scheduling the wiggle room, aka the time off from everything aka the time with no appointments or plans of any kind. Otherwise...when would I daydream? When would I go for a walk?

    Once I have a good portion of my calendar pinned down, I call and make reservations for everything that I'm sure about. This is relatively new for me, too. I never used to make reservations. I didn't realize until I became a theatre blogger how much theatres rely on the number of reservations to determine whether or not they should cancel a performance.

    By the way, I also put up with a lot less rudeness, now, when I ask people to be my guests. (And, I hope, I am less rude, myself.) I have discovered that I really enjoy anticipating spending one-on-one time with someone I like, so I offer a specific invitation to a certain show on a certain day at a certain time. When someone says, I'll let you know and then does NOT let me know even when I ask him or her again a week later, it is a big, neon sign to me that says, I don't care much about you, so I am waiting to see if something better is offered to me.

    I just don't have time for that noise any more. I do have several other people who are delighted to accompany me to the theatre, and who therefore tell me within 24 hours, I'm sorry, I can't, but please ask me another time! when they are unavailable. I am also happy to go by myself.

    I do sometimes say to a person I have just met, Hey, I am on my way to the theatre and I have an extra ticket. Wanna go with me? Blogging has done wonders for my courage!

    Still...I guess I don't take too many of the decide Friday night people to the theatre. That's just the way it goes.

    Re: season announcements - I enjoy the fact that Indy has a whole spectrum of practices.

    For example, I like that the IRT gave me an envelope filled with media passes to all of the opening nights way back in the summer, before this season started. I wrote all of those dates on my calendar before any other theatre's. I appreciate that when I have had to change my tickets due to family emergencies or business trips for my day job, the IRT box office people have been very understanding and helpful.

    At the other end of the spectrum is Indianapolis New Theatre contacting me two days before their show started. I couldn't make it to opening weekend, or even the second weekend, but I was able to re-arrange some things and I am now looking forward to seeing it this weekend. I was touched, and yes, flattered, that they just wanted me to see it and write about it whenever I could.

    I like the fairly predictable good quality of the theatres that announce their seasons ahead of time, and the adventure of supporting the theatres that announce show-by-show.

    In fact, I am looking forward to seeing all of the shows you mentioned, Lou.

    But I'm still curious how other people would answer your question.

    Hope Baugh
    Indy Theatre Habit
  • I'd argue that a commentator shouldn't be flattered that a company wants its work seen and written about. A sports columnist shouldn't be flattered that the Colts invite them to see a game, either.

    Obviously, Hope is in a unique situation as a reviewer and Encore judge. There's an expectation mixed with the desire to see so many shows.

    What about the rest of you? Why did you choose to see the last show you saw? And how far ahead of time did you make that decision?

  • But when a company wants ME to see and write about its work, it makes me feel...respected. Or something.

    But I agree with you, Lou: deciding what to review is not, ultimately, a popularity contest. The librarian in me wants a balanced collection of reviews in my blog's archives, so I try to make sure I'm spreading my attention around as fairly as possible, whether all of the theatres flatter me or not.

    Hope Baugh
    Indy Theatre Habit
  • PS - I wonder what it would be like to be a sports columnist...

    Hope Baugh
    Indy Theatre Habit

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