Fixing theatre, one tweet at a time

Random tweet from Rebecca on Tuesday morning:

Off to have breakfast with @cynnamons. Vancouver theatre publicists unite!

To which I responded with a flippant:

@rebeccacoleman @cynnamons Hi girls! If you figure out how to fix #theatre today, let me know?

To which Travis responded with a considered:

@thenextstagemag Give a leading indie company in each city a budget half as large as the largest company for three years.

And then is was game on, in < 140 characters.

thenextstagemag: Who’s got some ideas on how to #fixtheatre?


hummingbird604: Create targeted socmed campaign to influence funding organizations 4 theatre

thenextstagemag: Convince each large civic theatre to foster one indie company on a side stage per year, as many productions as they can fit

autoblot: Develop resources to help small companies learn how to reach beyond the ‘family and friends’ audience.

walt828: teach artists entrepreneurial skills. REAL entrepreneurial skills

thenextstagemag: Take one non-theatre friend to a play/month, and stick around afterward to meet the cast

brovermania: Small, affordable venues, cheap tickets, short plays, beer.

performaddict: Integrate video games with theatre and open the shows explicitly to gamers.

IanAMartin: What about free booze during performances? Or even ‘drinking in the seats’ being ok?

miketobias: @DallasTheater: Michael Kaiser says arts orgs need federal policy, not just fed funding:

theatre_20: foster a new generation of theatre-goer’s by creating theatre that is about them rather than their ancestors

happierman: make it affordable. make it often. make it interactive.

nyneofuturists: be willing to change start times, audience/stage layout, and allow beer

foyee: compromise less. Don’t give up on an idea because someone tells you it can’t be done.

halcyontony: don’t be scared to try something new?

foyee: Longer rehearsal/workshop time. Venue rent subsidies.

performaddict: Figure out how to make it cheaper. I’m all for a living wage, but most theatre is prohibitively expensive

foyee: Be inclusive, not exclusive and stop being pretentious about our art.

lacouvee: non traditional venues, non traditional times, make it relevant, exciting & dangerous also affordable

lacouvee: Talk about everybody who works in theatre, not just the actors & directors

lacouvee: reach out to minorities, help theatre to reflect our diverse cultural mosaic

thenextstagemag: Get loud and blog.

getrealtheatre: Getting them young means teaching drama, stagecraft in schools – this fosters a lifelong love of the art

DaveCharest: Set a regular schedule of emailing subscribers. Show them WHY they should be excited about theatre.

theatre_20: training institutions that make learning the “biz” side of “show biz” as important as the art.

DaveCharest: Enable fans to spread the word.

judithsthoughts: ticket prices are a huge deal, but i also think theatre has to stop being so commercialized.

judithsthoughts: i miss the days when bdwy was full of special shows, and not disney movies made into shows.

christinequinty: recognize that the relationship between large theatre and independent theatre can be one of mutualism, not competition

DaveCharest: Use a combination of text and HTML emails. Start building connections with the audience.

judithsthoughts: when teaching its important to get everyone involved – that way kids that arent “actors’ or “singers” feel included.

DaveCharest: Make it easy for people to get involved

FacesofWayne: build a community, put a quality product on the stage, promote the high quality product within and outside the community.

christinequinty: break down the perception that theatre is, as was described to me by a prof in an academic class at UBC, a ‘bourgeois art form’

travisbedard: Stop whining about what everyone else isn’t doing. It’s not a problem – you just found your niche.

gladyssantiago: Utilize Twitter & other social media platforms for ticket giveaways. Generates buzz, great WOM

DaveCharest: Why should audiences get it? Start educating.

thenextstagemag: Separate indie theatre from classical theatre in the public’s perception. Re-brand as sexy and relevant.

rebeccacoleman: I would love a vibrant online arts hub with photos/video/blog where everyone can promote their stuff.

FilmguyWon: Theatre will never thrive unless you raise a generation of Writers of plays. Otherwise it’s just the same old stuff.

macwrites: Playwrights: write plays that you yourself would honestly set aside an evening to go out & see (even if no friends are in it).

VanMusicals: Incorporate non-traditional (colour-blind) casting whenever possible

TheatreSmart: Have talk-backs after every show!

KurtDaw: If you want to #fixtheatre you have to look at British models that drive down ticket prices and bring in new, younger audiences.

FacesofWayne: (Ottawa) The ideas here are applicable everywhere.

FacesofWayne: @TheatreSmart I am not a big fan of talkbacks. Actors are not authorities on the play. They are just performers.

nyneofuturists: here’s something to add to @thenextstagemag’s discussion about theater from yesterday: (via @TDFNYC)

Now that’s a great way to kick start a week. My admiration and thanks to all who dropped a #fixtheatre tweet, commented and re-tweeted.

Don’t hesitate to drop any more thoughts in the comments, or keep the discussion going on twitter with the #fixtheatre hash tag. The revolution will be hashed out…

Image courtesy of Flickr user Max F. Williams


  1. Wow. This is what I get for walking away for Twitter (for the most part) for a day or two…though I was in the midst of fixing a specific production, so maybe that counts for something…

    I’ll think on that. Most all of the suggestions so far are very good.

  2. Too old to twitter but loved following the suggestions. Here is mine:
    Funding agencies (fed and provincial) have to learn how to let some arts groups die. Artificially propping up artistically moribund organizations blocks room at the bottom for new groups to flourish. When the artistic founder (s) move on, so should the funding.

  3. Our two cents:

    Indie companies should take more chances and work more quickly. I would rather see a company put on ten hastily-put-together plays a year, flying by the seats of their pants on sheer immediacy and energy, than to see them do two or three overthought, overexecuted, dry and drained shows just for the sake of so-called “higher production values”.

    When I say “hastily put together”, however, I don’t mean simplistic stuff like one or two people delivering monologues or idly chit-chatting on a bare stage with minimal lighting. I mean taking on ambitious, complicated, large-scale plays – but with the time and effort spent in pre-production greatly reduced.

    I like the “anything can happen” feeling pervading the air when one goes to see open dress rehearsals and previews of shows, and wish that nervous energy could be maintained throughout a show’s run, even at the expense of perceived “professionalism”. I think audiences, especially if properly coached to have their expectations fall into a certain spectrum, would have more fun in such a lively and spirited setting.

  4. Wow. I’m in the middle of a love/hate/boredom/overwhelmed relationship with Twitter right now and it’s nice to see a spontaneous conversation emerge like this one. Twitter is all about the conversation. Wish I had been on at the time.

    As for fixing theatre. Can it be fixed? Of course, if theatre practitioners acknowledge the need to change in order to survive. A change in the definition of what theatre and theatre companies are: Who are we beyond the ticket that needs to be sold? Beyond subscriptions? Beyond the butt in the seat? Beyond the grant written description of the company? Beyond the economy?

    I’m very much steeped right now in my own companies swirling discussions of theatre and the future and some of the above applies to what we want to focus on: who are we, what are we, beyond being a bookstore. That is what will propel us forward. That’s the theory anyway. :)

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