You start by not sucking…

Week two of the run started tonight with a packed house, thank you very much. For us that is quite literally the greatest feeling in the world, for two distinct reasons; one: we need dough to cover production costs, and two: if you create a piece of art and it falls in the forest…you get where I’m going. Reason number one seems a bit avaricious and perhaps a little too capitalistic for a bunch of left-leaning theatre artists, but we must keep perspective on the fact that we are creating a consumable product after all. Besides, we’re happy to be able to break even at this level, and just maybe sock a little away against the next production. (Or rent a house in Tofino and party like the folks went away on vacation.) Although being able to make a decent living at it sure would be nice. Reason number two is the more pure to the artistic philosophy of the whole thing I suppose, having something to say is all well and good, but without someone to say it to you’re just a voice shouting into the wind.

Which brings up the real work of devoting yourself to starting a theatre company: marketing, the other side of the coin, the other half of the battle, if you will. Not that the preparation of the play itself isn’t work, it is, it’s hard work, but it’s work that we love to do, it’s our bliss. Trying to reach a potential audience and then convince them to spend a night and their hard-earned cash on our little project puts you at the bottom of a very steep grind. Especially when you want to mount a series of productions and build a buzz. If you’re throwing up one vanity play you can usually rely on a good word of mouth campaign starting with your friends telling two friends and so on, but without a budget for billboards and drive-time slots how do you reach the other 587,791 people in the city and keep them coming back? Really, if you have any ideas I would love to hear them. Vancouver isn’t exactly a city that is a.) lacking in cool stuff to do or b.) fueled by an insatiable thirst for good indie theatre.

Oh well, all things in due time. I’m just starting to realize the scope of the responsibility that we’ve set ourselves, and I’ll bet that there isn’t a theatre company in town that hasn’t had this exact conversation amongst themselves, and is still fighting the good fight. So I guess you start a blog, and apply for grants, maybe commission a bunch of artists to paint fibreglass “spirit Shakespeare” statues and stick them on every downtown corner, I don’t know. I do know that step number one is making darn sure that you’re putting up a solid piece of work, however. Let’s face it, watching a bad play is ten times more off-putting than watching a bad movie, you have the discomfort of being in the same room as the people you feel sorry for, and it’s harder to walk out of. So selling out the theatre like tonight makes us feel very, very good.

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