Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Orientalism

There is something wrong with this brochure copy for Broadway In Chicago. This is the blurb for August: Osage County:

Steppenwolf's AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY is a grand, gripping new play that tells the story of the Westons, a large extended clan that comes together at their rural Oklahoma homestead when the alcoholic patriarch disappears. Forced to confront unspoken truths and astonishing secrets, the family must also contend with violet (played by Academy Award-winner Estelle Parsons), a pill-popping, deeply unsettled woman at the center of this storm. AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY is a rare theatrical event - a large-scale work filled with unforgettable characters, a powerful tale told with unflinching honesty. The New York Times cheers, "AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY is flat-out, without qualification, the most exciting new American play Broadway has seen in years," and Time Magazine named AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY the "#1 Show of the Year!"

Would it really have been so bad to include its Chicago Origins, other than the fleeting "Steppenwolf" at the beginning? They couldn't even quote the Trib? Weird, right? I mean for marketing reasons, isn't it as much of a draw to be a hometown hero as to be a razzle dazzle from the East?

9 comments:

Travis Bedard said...

Howsabout "You can't miss the dazzling homecoming of the show that conquered Broadway!"

Benedict Nelson said...

Yeah, exactly! I'm amazed that's nowhere in there. And London! And Australia!

Nick Keenan said...

I for one am excited to see the NEW YORK version of "SUGUST: OASGE COUNTY."

(Oh Benno, don't ruin my illusions and tell me that it's their [sic] showing and not yours.)

Benedict Nelson said...

Oh my god, how many ways can I misspell that title? I wish wish wish it was their mistake(s).

Playing Devil's sdvocate, BiC could also just really be banking on the Steppenwolf brand, but it seems like if that were true they would buffer it with some additional communication, for instance "Award-winning theater ensemble Steppenwolf's..." or "Broadway's favorite Steppenwolf." Oh, maybe scratch that last one...

Monica said...

I'm tempted to say that the blurb is something that the publicists put out because that is what the Fox Theatre in St. Louis has up until the "unflinching honesty" part. However, the Fox Theatre does mention that Anna D. Shapiro directed it and Tracy Letts wrote it, but that doesn't mean much to some people.

http://www.fabulousfox.com/shows_page_multi.aspx?usID=146

Honestly, I thought that "SUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY" was BiC's error, which led me to think, "They really can't get anyone to proofread this?

Nick Keenan said...

Nice find, Monica.

This tells me that this is ripped straight from the press release or marketing language that the Broadway tour producers wrote... BiC and Fabulous Fox, being rental producers, probably just cut and paste that press release written by NYC to work for the baseline entire country, and they don't take advantage of local interest.

So: This is less about failing to feature local interest and more about a Walmart mentality, perhaps?

I wonder if this is how Ray Kroc's McDonald's in Des Plaines felt when that second McDonalds opened up down the street after crossing the country.

Benedict Nelson said...

That's great, Monica, and terrifying. Walmart mentality indeed. Also, I fixed the typos (let us pray) to avoid further confusion.

I guess every market thinks it's a unique market, but we really are, aren't we?

Also, imagine if the play had originally been produced, though, at St. Louis Rep. Do you think they wouldn't mention it then? That strikes me as even more bonkers, somehow. Now interestingly, I imagine if there came to Los Angeles a new production of Angels in America, it almost certainly would not mention that it was developed at the Taper. Rather it would focus on the sucess of the Broadway show and the TV miniseries. But that's partly the effect of historical distance.

Mike said...

Monica is right. I work in theatre marketing (hosting AOC this year actually) and the tour provides a blurb that every marketing has to use. It has to be generic enough to appeal to all markets.

Benedict Nelson said...

Wow! Thanks for writing, Mike. So why do they think that's better? Is it simply to control the product and make sure it's being marketed effectively? Can't individual producers be trusted to market to their own audiences? Are you in Los Angeles? How are you thinking of marketing the play there?