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07-08 Jobsite season thoughts

We’re never satisfied with maintaining a certain comfortable level. We’re all about push, and all about progress. We’re really hoping that the 07-08 season is no exception.

It’s a great season, and one we’re really proud to have put together. We had a great year in 06-07 in just about every regard. If there was one complaint we got a few times, it was likely due to content in shows like The Pillowman, This is How it Goes and Hurlyburly. At the same time though, we likely get as much encouragement for doing work like that as we do folks who are turned off on what we do. I’m only aware of one set of season ticket holders who simply said enough was enough and they don’t go to the theater to see the kind of thing we often put on stage, so they’ll just pick and choose the shows they think they’d like to see. I can’t really argue with that. As with anything, at all times, Caveat Emptor. We never try to trick anyone into seeing our shows, and believe folks should know what they are in for.

Our audience is becoming more and more willing to try new things, and open to different approaches. It’s perhaps one of the greatest triumphs I’ve had as an artistic director – to have actual evidence that it can work, that people can be guided without being dragged. That you don’t have to simply appeal to some non-existent Middle American.

That all said, next season in many ways won’t be as “harsh” as this one. The strongest content is likely in Embedded, and considering it’s a political satire on the Iraq War, that shouldn’t surprise anyone. By comparison to some past work, Gorey Stories and Boston Marriage will appear downright tame.

The biggest challenge we have though is growing this audience. We simply have to find more season ticket holders. We’d love to double what we’ve had. It’s not just about increased numbers to say we’ve increased numbers. If we can double our current fills, Jobsite can – from the very start of the season – start running all shows for four weeks instead of three. We’re getting close, but it’s not yet close enough to plan for four weeks.

Why does four weeks matter? The costs for running that fourth week are minimal in comparison to the potential profit. Since all our artists work on a guarantee vs a percentage of overage – that fourth week makes a SIGNIFICANT difference as to what we can pay them. If we know from the beginning we’re running four weeks, we can increase our guarantees thus getting just that much closer to paying our artists a living wage. That may just help keep some of our best talent here. It certainly helps the local economy.

We’ve got a wide spread for 07-08. A little bit of everything. We’re actually doing a musical, like, with actual live music. It’s got the whole goth appeal, it’s right around Halloween, and of course it’s based on a major literary/cultural figure’s work in Edward Gorey. We’re looking forward to this very fun, high-concept start to our season.

Eleemosynary has already been dubbed our “Jobsite Chick Flick” – a powerful story about three generations of women. Kari Goetz is back in the director’s chair, and we have a great opportunity not only for three women, but for a teenage actress as well – a first for us. We anticipate moms and daughters, grandmothers and grand-daughters and most other familiar permutations coming in groups to share laughs and maybe even a hanky for this one.

Boston Marriage was another one of those plays we were surprised had yet been done in the area by the time we got around to it. Our gain, and we’re always happy to bring David Mamet to our stage. This play in particularly is certainly a diversion from his typical style and setting, though those finely attuned to this American master will certainly see the mad genius behind these ladies’ words. We’re also happy to have back Karla Hartley, who for us directed the Best Play of 2005 according to Creative Loafing, The Goat.

Oh, and check that out, two plays in a row with a cast of three women each. Despite our origins as a five-man company, we’re hardly a Boys Club anymore …

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is, well, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. It’s typically one of those can’t-miss titles, and one we’ve talked about doing for years. Katrina Stevenson is a perfect fit for this literary, philosophical and fun contemporary classic of the theater.

A Dream Play
puts together all sorts of interesting elements that could turn into one monumental piece of theater. It’s certainly the artiest of our offerings. Those who’ve loved Machinal or The Tibetan Book of the Dead may really geek on this one. Chris Holcom helms this project, originally by August Strinberg but that’s been adapted by Caryl Churchill. She admits that adaptation is perhaps a bit forgiving, and that she’d likely be pretty angry if someone did to one of her plays what she did to Strindberg’s. Expressionistic, perhaps a bit surreal, this should be a beautiful, stirring piece that operates a level far below the surface.

Then of course we have Embedded. Tim Robbins’ great script and a co-directorship with myself and Shawn Paonessa that I’m really looking forward to. Mask work! Politics! Satire! Projections! We also guarantee that folks won’t have ever seen the Shimberg the way we’ll have it for this one. Oh, yeah, and it’s just a short month and a half before the 2008 elections. Fancy that, I wonder if that was intentional? This may be a perfect fundraising vehicle for candidates, action groups etc. Buyout performances are available, and we can offer a lot in regards to pre or post-show talks/discussions.

Most of the pieces are now in place, we finalize casting on all of these shows in the next two weeks. We have roughly two months to try to really drum up new season ticket holders and then we’re back off to the races.

I can’t believe this season is already over. I can’t believe we’re already beginning a new one. I can’t believe we’re already planning for 08-09. In many ways I can’t believe I’m still here doing this. What I’d really like to be able to not believe is that we doubled our season ticket holders from 06-07 to 07-08. Wanna help make me faint?

If you do end up signing up for tickets because you read this whole ramble, shoot me an email with your confirmation number and I’ll send out a Jobsite t-shirt to you for each season ticket purchased as a thank-you.

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