Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Marketing Scheme

I hate to bring up the old Macbeth issue from last year, but there a couple of shows this season that are dupiclates or highly similar. Two Frankensteins (here, here), three Fausts (here, here, here), two Scientology Pagents (here, here)...

So, what about offering heavily discounted tickets to come to your production to anyone bringing a ticket stub from the other one? If the two companies worked together they could share the cost/benefit of this program, but how gutsy would it be if it were one-sided? Thougts?


Rob Kozlowski said...

I like it.

devilvet said...

Who aside from friends and theatrical insiders are going to go to more than one of these, even if they were free events?

Unless you are invested in the people making the play, how tolerant are most folks to watching the same story or the same narrative?

Is the issue really it costs too much money to see 2 different Frankensteins. Or is the issue, why 2 different Frankensteins so close together?


Benedict Nelson said...

I think you make a worthy point, Bob, regarding "theatrical insiders", though friends strike me as the least likely people to see an additional rendition of a play.

As an audience member, I would be enticed by the challenge and the opportunity. Will a lot of people say "too much Frankenstein"? Sure, maybe, but I bet a good group would be willing to ask, "Ok, what do YOU have to say?" Consider the O'Neill festival. On one hand, too much freaking O'Neill, but on the other hand, what an exciting opportunity to see thematically or artistically linked shows in close proximity.

As for what "the issue" is, well, I'm not sure. As a "scene," you're right: it's worth considering why multiple productions are done close together. But the answer that everyone will always give you is that the show - whatever it is - is done so much because it bares repeating. Why not prove this by encouraging people to see them side-by-side. What's different? What's the same? Which do you like more? I think these are interesting questions for anyone.

So you're right, this might not result in non-stop sell0out crowds as people self-select for who's willing to go through Frankenstein again, but I bet those who do will have learned something really unique and they're more likely to do it if it's cheaper.

devilvet said...

Cheaper is always better from the consumer POV, enough so that I assumed that it wasnt your point. It seemed to me the 'weight' of your point was that cheaper was enough to overcome the obstacle of repetitve narrative/burning out audience.

Who is your audience? For example, I'm going to see Frankenstein at MCA becuase I've seen alot of Graney's stuff lately and I think he is on a roll. I am going to see Modern Promethus becuase I know half the people in the cast, an feel more personally invested in their success. However, if I didnt know them or hell even Sean, I'd pick one of the two.

I dont think we have 3 fausts and 2 frankensteins because it bares repeating. To me that sounds more like a hindsighten justification. The reason is that companies either dont know or dont care what the other folks are doing. Which from an artistic individual POV seems fine, but less so if you believe that chicago audiences are capable of repeat narrative burnout.

I don't think the O'Neill example works becuase that wasnt 8 productions of Hairy Ape. If it were, they would have had to give most those tickets away.

Also, If RBP had called their play Frankenstein instead of Modern Prometheus...I think they'd be scrapping the bottom of the barrel audience wise, not because of the quality, RBP does quality work, but becuase Sean (who also does good work) is much more in fashion and much more in the public's eye due to media placement.

Among an audience or artists, there are bound to be some (althought my instinct says quite the minority) who are going to embrace the challenge of seeing and comparing both productions.

Among an audience of non-artists, I see even fewer. Especially at this time of year.

It is not just money as an obstacle. Time is one as well. However time this upcoming month can I dedicate to the spectacle of Frankenstein when there are so many other options for my time as an audience of theatre? If I can see 1 frankenstein and 1 other show (how many folks other than critics and insiders see 2 or more shows consistantly on a monthly basis...I dont know) I am more likely to see Mr Spaceman, or the DCA puppet show, or Oblleck or what most folks do this month, they skip scripted theatre altogether and opt for of America's most popular forms of theatre during my lifetime, the haunted house.

I think that for 85-99% of us out there, when two companies tell the same story so close to each other (regardless of holidays, or other such events), the majority community views it as having to make a choice between the two. Even if both shows were free.

But hey, maybe a poll is in order. In November we could ask how many people we know went to one, to both, or neither.

devilvet said...

If there is such a thing as chicago audience's getting burned out... and we think about that compared to what many insiders are calling a flooding of the market, then it might behoove us to never again tell a story becuase it bares repeating unless we can also be sure to bring something completed unique to the telling as well as market that uniqueness.

Not in contradiction to anything you;ve said, just the thought occured to me

Benedict Nelson said...

You make a lot of great points. And you're right that your last comment is exactly what I mean. If you're doing the same show as another company, by offering the extra incentive to see your production you better be promising something different. You're right that it was a hindsight justification (thought one I really got from everyone I asked) so part of this idea is to call them out on that. Is your production unique enough that both can be seen? In fact, will something be gained by seeing them both together? There's only one way to find out.