Saving Community Theatre

“Reality has a well-known liberal bias.”
Stephen Colbert


Saving Community Theatre

Theater and Dance have been on the decline for decades. Television is easier and already paid for. Why go out to see a doubtful local production?

The model hasn’t changed much. A company will have a season based on the season, maybe the Sound of Music around Easter. I can bet you a dollar that every local company is waiting for Hamilton to be available at their level.

The people attending the theater are, for the most part, other theater people. Those people don’t care about The Death of a Salesman, they want to see their friend perform. That, I think, is the answer.

About ten years ago, Memphis Ballet saved Memphis Ballet. They did this by doing three things.

  1. They made their company local. Since Sun Records is from Memphis, they did new ballet pieces based on Elvis songs. And they marketed it is a Memphis thing, not so much an Elvis thing.
  2. They did a full-length ballet based on a local legend. I can’t remember the story now but it a famous story about a drowning man who is saved by a fisherman. Maybe the fisherman was a ghost, I don’t know. But it was local, come see the local legend brought to life.
  3. They made the dance company available to the public. Mostly before and after performances but also at PR events and fundraising events. People got to know the players and have a personal connection with them. They really pushed their rising star, a dancer who was beginning to do choreography.It worked. People don’t care so much about Swan Lake would come to see someone they knew and could cheer for and encourage. Memphis Ballet was saved when it put “community” back into community theater.

    My dream is to have small bar that served drinks with a stage. Friends can perform. Maybe music or a piece of dance or a scene from a play. I’ve never been to one of those improv comedy clubs like the Groundlings but I’ll bet the audience came to see their favorites as much as to laugh.

One thought on “Saving Community Theatre

  1. Why does the Nutcraxker do so well? Several reasons, but one is that there are a million kids in the show and everyone’s parent, sibs, 3rd cousins, and boyfriends come. Why do people come to dance recitals en masse? Same reason – small crowd if you only jad the senior dancers.

    I LOVE community theater. It’s part of what makes a community. Like a boy’s band. Right here in River City

    Liked by 1 person

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