I can’t believe we sold out our second Thursday! The only predictable thing about Bay area audiences is their unpredictability. It use to be second weekends were our lightest, lately it’s been our third weekend, but in any case, the second Thursday night has never been a huge draw. Thursdays in general are not our best-sellers.
We sold almost 35 tickets to yesterday’s show between the time the Ticket Office opened and curtain. I’d actually told several friends they’d have no problems getting a ticket at the door for last night, but to just be careful and get here early. I’m glad I gave them that much, and that they took me up on it!
Tonight and tomorrow are already sold out as well, so if you wanted to come this weekend, looks like the Sunday 4pm show is your only chance. We still play two more weekends though. To beat this broken drum in front of the choir, to mix my metaphors, we highly recommend advance purchases.
Last night’s audience was about half full with a group from a college class. Dr. L is good to us sometimes, bringing a big mess of his students to the theater looking like they are all going to prom. Dr. L himself is usually decked out in a tux. It’s a fun idea. We had another guy in full navy dress.
They were one of our more vocally responsive audiences in terms of laughter, which was great, but were also one of our more up-and-down audiences in terms of going to the bathroom and hitting the bar and some chatting. It wasn’t distracting to the point of throwing us off or anything, we just obviously notice all this stuff. Whenever we have large groups – particularly of younger folks – we always manage to add a line into the curtain speech that says “this isn’t like TV you know, the actors can totally hear you, too.” That doesn’t always seem to stop the chatters.
No exaggeration: I had a woman sitting roughly 3 feet in front of me in the front row who at several points during the show just had to lean over and talk to her date. Not like a one or two word remark, but a full on narrative assesment of some sort.
Maybe it says something about our society when it gets harder and harder for someone to sit still and quiet for an hour to an hour and a half at a stretch. Actually, I’m sure it does.
We have to have a good sense of humor about it. We have to. Going to the theater is not a regular experience for a lot of people. If we get all marm-ish about it all the time and just huff around in haughty indignance we’ll never really attract people into wanting to come back, so we go the gentle encouragement route. We can meet in the middle and help people develop a better gauge as to what’s appropriate.
Well, except for when you put your feet on the stage, then you’ll have to deal with Paul Potenza’s Player, who has the glorious freedom to be able to interact with the audience. There was a young guy in the front row who put his feet up on the set, and I caught Paul’s eyes staring at the guy’s feet and knew what he was going to do before he did it. One direct cross and a stomp later, and the guy got the message.
There’s a part of me that thinks theater is like being in church, just a really freaking cool church with no guilt involved. It’s no real stretch, considering the religious and ritualistic origins of the theater. Just keep that in mind. The playing space is sacred. Don’t get up and walk across the set to get to the bathroom – especially during the show (I can tell you at least two plays we’ve done that’s happened during). Keep your feet off the set. Don’t talk back to the actors unless you’re sure they’re really asking you for a response (last night we had an audience member very loudly answer an actor on stage who had asked another actor a question). Try to keep your butt in your seat as much as possible, which likely means making sure you ‘do your business’ before the show starts and at intermission.
It’s not really just about catering to sensitive artists, it’s also for the enjoyment of those around you. I know as an audience member I get horribly distracted by chatters, the couple that sits there and makes out the whole time, or the girl who gets up to go to the bathroom multiple times an act.
Ok, so after I give all these little illustrations it likely seems I’m bagging the audience. I’m really not. As a whole, they were a great house and we were very happy to be sold out. To a degree, we really expect a little bit of this when we have a big group like that. All the little things that happened over 2.5 hours laid out all next to each other just sort of go to prove a point.
We’re never going to complain about a full crowd of young people in the theater who laugh out loud on a Thursday night.