Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bil - It's Harder Than We Realized

Every now and again, I have to defend live theatre as a valid form of entertainment to friends and/or family, especially in the face of a night at the movies.  It's usually pretty easy to convince them of the validity, since I can rattle off a litany of awesome aspects right off the top of my head.  However, getting people to actually go and watch a play is a different task altogether, and it's very, very hard.  When I ask people later on if they had been to see any live theatre since the last time we spoke, the answer every time is no.

Why is that? I always ask myself.  Are movies really that strong a competitor to live theatre?

But it struck me recently that movies probably aren't the only competition we have.  It's completely silly of me to assume that people choose to stay away from live theatre because they are instead headed to the movies.  There are not only movies, but television (which requires no money and lets you stay inside, where it's warm), live music concerts (which attract a somewhat similar, yet different enough crowd), there are sporting events (which, let's face it, are awesome), and a myriad of other options people have to do at night that don't necessarily even qualify as "entertainment."  There are church group meetings.  There are bars to spend all night drinking in.  There are There are zillions of ways for my friends and family (and everyone else that I don't know) to spend time and money.

Chicken pot pie graphs...
So what makes people prefer one thing over another?  I guess it's ultimately about what matters to them.  We can't control what people like or don't like; the best a theatre company can do is hope to match what people like with the shows we produce, and hope those people are in the mood to be entertained.

Help your theatre companies out, Chicagoans: what's relevant to you? Let us know!

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