Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Not Quite Venting... but Close.

As 110 in the Shade approaches I start to get mixed emotions. I'm excited because finally our hard work, and the hard work of others, will pay off. And this is a great show, with real rain, and an incredibly hard working cast. But I'm also worried, and frustrated because even though, the students, the staff, and myself have really upped our advertising efforts, I know that our opening night crowd will be scarce. And I don't know why.

For some reason the same community that fills the house every night for Saint George Community Theatre productions doesn't show the same type of support for Dixie State College Theatre productions, or for that matter any other community theatre venue. (See: The Space Between, Dixie Dramatic Arts) As I've considered reasons why, I ruled out quality of the show. I think that I can honestly, and unbiasedly say, that Dixie State College Theatre productions are at least as good as SGMT productions. In every aspect: talent, set design, lighting design, etc... The shows that we put on the stage are always top notch.
I know that part of it has to do with our lack of marketing. We don't have the big banners, or the radio spots, or the bill boards, or the sponsors, that SGMT has... but we do advertise.

I'm embarrassed for the community to say that I'm sure part of it has to do with show selection. The college sometimes does 'less-known' plays, but I would hope that the community would be excited at the opportunity to see something new. Instead, if they've never heard of it, they don't bother coming to see it. That's really a shame, because we have put on some really great shows.

I really don't know why things are this way, but since the Dolores Eccles building was constructed a Dixie State College Theatre main stage production has never sold out. I remember last year when I was in 'I Hate Hamlet' we sold less than 30 tickets on opening night. There is nothing more disheartening as an actor to walk out on stage after 3 months of rigorous rehearsal and seeing empty seats.

My goal is not to guilt people into coming to see our shows. I just hope that as time goes on our reputation will grow, and I hope that people can start to trust that they will see high quality entertainment on our stages. In the mean time I'll keep blowing our horn as loud as I can so that at least people know what they're missing. Because our students deserve a crowd. And the community deserves to see these shows.

I'm through complaining... I just have to end with a shameless plug here... sorry.
Dixie State College Theatre opens 110 in Shade on Thursday March 5th at 7:30 pm, and will run through March 14th on the Dolores Eccles main stage. It's going to be a fantastic (family friendly) show complete with song, dance, and rain! Yes, REAL rain! Based on the play 'The Rainmaker' set in 1930's Texas. Joel Thomas called 110 in the Shade the play that Oklahoma wishes it was.

For tickets call: 435-652-7800
Join our event on Facebook!

Tell your friends! And your family! And your neighbors! And your co-workers! And your cousins! And your cousins neighbors! Tell everyone!

**Let me just add, just in case, that I love SGMT productions and I think it's great that they get the support they deserve. I hope that I haven't suggested anything otherwise in this post.


Aelysium said...

haha. Call a spade a spade, Trav. This is definitely a vent. ;)

I'll absolutely back you up in saying that DSCT puts on a great show. I wish I had the monetary means to attend every production! A babysitter who was constantly on call would also be helpful...
Anyway, I'll spread the word about the show. Not sure if I'll be able to attend, but I sure hope so!

Trav said...

Hooray! Let me know if you're coming. I can't get you free tickets, but I can get you buy one get one free.

Tamari said...

We will be out of town opening weekend but will see it the first chance we get when we return! We wouldn't miss it!! I will do what I can to spread the word. I agree with what you said in this post and do not understand it, but I have faith that things will turn around, people need the arts now more than ever! :)

Roger said...

Reasons, in my opinion:

1. The short run. The first week or two of an SGMT show is usually pretty scarce too, building strong by the end of 2nd and into the end of the run.... usually packed near closing. DSC shows don't have this luxury.

2. "Following". The brass at SGMT has spent decades building relationships with the the good-ol' boys and girls in town, and it shows. Also, certain actors build a following after a while. I guarantee you cast a show with Brodie Perry, crowds will come. Students come and go, and there is not enough time for the locals to really gravitate toward particular "stars" and be drawn for that reason alone, even though their talent may surpass that of the locals.

3. "Community" - this one's obvious... you cast long-time community members, you get a ton of friends and family. Sure, many of the DSC students are local, but many aren't. Also when community members come act for the first time, ALL of their friends and family want to see Joe on stage ("what a hoot!"). DSC casts from the students almost exclusively (as it should), but that naturally excludes locals who would come if someone they knew was in the show. DSC shows get the same crowds because they cast from the same talent pool for every show.

4. Show selection. You are spot on with this. And it sucks. It comes down to educating the community but especially the YOUTH that art is amazing, that theater is as valuable as sports, and that new experiences rock. Nobody takes risks, and for that exact reason... who will come and see? Society is complacent and we need to punch it in the nose.

Those are just some of my thoughts.

Roger said...

I thought of one more thing...

Tam and I went to USU up in Logan. That community was smaller than St. George yet more supportive of the arts. Sold out college shows were not unheard of.

I think the difference is that Logan is (was? it's been a while) a Community of Culture. St. George is a Community of Leisure. Big difference in how the populace will spend their time and money. The Logan community is able to support Utah Festival Opera, the Lyric Theater, and many other arts avenues. St. George supports a dozen golf courses and a record amount of ATVs.

Hm, I guess we have Tuacahn (but again, standard musicals). We needz some educationz!

Trav said...

I think you're absolutely right Roger. For better or for worse those are the facts. I just wish we could do something about it.