On listing with VancouverPlays.com

Dear Vancouver theatre companies with upcoming productions:

Being a regular independent theatre-goer, I was just skimming the coming soon section of Jerry Wasserman’s essential theatre guide on VancouverPlays.com, and I’d like to make an observation that I hope may be of some benefit to those of you who are wisely choosing to use this service.

Of the 21 impending indie productions listed in this section, 7 of you have made the choice to pay the (comparatively) modest price to expand your listing into a preview page, which has provided me with story details, cast and crew names, web-site links, ticketing information and promotional photos. The rest of you have chosen to only take advantage of the free offer of listing only the production and company name, the location and date of the run.

I’m sorry to say that I know nothing about you or your plays, and after reading the bare-bones production details provided on the site I feel no more enlightened, so based on the amount of information I now have I find myself with zero incentive to clear time in my rather busy schedule to see what it is you’re offering.

I did, however, click on the preview for Exit Commander Kitty (among others) and the description offered therein has intrigued me enough that I’m going to make the time to see this play.

I do not presume to tell you how to run your company, or your marketing plan. I merely offer this post as insight into the experience of a potential audience member, and one of thousands that regularly visit Jerry’s site.

I sincerely hope it is of some benefit to you.




  1. As a publicist (it seems so silly to start a sentience like that!), I always recommend that my clients take out a preview on Vancouverplays.com. Jerry’s site gets around 40,000 hits per month, and is, in my humble opinion, the online version of the listings in the Georgia Straight. At between $50-80 per month-long preview, I think it’s a great bang for your buck.
    For the record, I have no deal with him, I don’t get any kickbacks. But I am the publicist for Exit Commander Kitty, so I’m happy that my show stood out.

  2. Simon,

    I agree with you that us indies need to be better about marketing our upcoming shows; however, that being said, I’m not sure chastising people for not shelling out for a fee-for-service is the best way to get that message across. You’re absolutely right, vancouverplays.com’s rates are very reasonable. However, the reality is that most indies are in the same boat I am – generally, there’s no funding, which means it all comes out of pocket and whatever paltry sum you can raise through fundraising. $80 doesn’t sound like a lot, but when that $80 is added to the printing costs for posters and playbills, the cost of a website, and other fee-for-service publicity tools, not to mention honorariums for actors, venue and rehearsal space costs, it all adds up.

    I’m not saying I don’t agree with your message, I just wanted to offer up another opinion. Is there more we could and should be doing? Absolutely. Is that always possible? No.

  3. Thanks Peter, that’s the perfect counterpoint.

    Is there more we could and should be doing? You said a mouthful there. Indie theatre in this town has a marketing problem, and it needs to be fixed. And our number one enemy right now is funding. Resolved.

    So we need to figure this out as a community. We need to talk more with each other. This is still going to take a fairly long time, so in the meanwhile we’re going to have to get very economical with the resources we do have, and we need to get together as a community to share these resources. Jerry’s site is a big resource, because he’s done such a great job at establishing himself as the go-to source for play information for a targeted market, and he’s kept his rates down for people like us. My contention is that getting information up on his site that is going to arouse the interest of an audience that does not yet know you is far more effective than even flyering. Printing costs are pricy, and it’s harder to drive business your way with them, although this has been an unquestioned model for, well, forever. Sure they work to some extent, but there’s better ways to spend some of our small budget, and Jerry’s previews are an imperative, because they reach your audience directly.

    And what I’m saying with the above post is that my considered, educated opinion is that simply listing your play for free with no production details is next door to useless. It has no quantifiable effect, and it sits on a site that can be of great use. And if the previews are too expensive, then we have to find more imaginative ways of getting to the already over-bombarded public.

    Like contacting The Next Stage and arranging for a Video Listing to pitch your play directly to your potential audience. I understand that service is available for free.

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