What’s a preview?

Our production of The Flick took place in a movie theater. Avid movie buffs are very familiar with sneak previews and special midnight showings of films in advance to their “official” opening. Studios like these to start drumming up excitement about the film, and to get that word of mouth machine going in advance of a film’s opening weekend (yanno, because opening week box office is sort of a big deal).

With live theater, previews are not quite the same thing. But in a way they sort of are.

Live theater isn’t like a movie in the respect that a movie doesn’t change if someone is watching it or not. All the work has been done by the time it shows up at your local AMC or Muvico. Live theater is much different, because live theater is a dynamic, emergent thing that truly only comes to life once the show’s last piece is in place — the audience.

An audience dictates more than you might guess (there’s a reason we like the front of the theater full and not everyone sitting in the back, or why it drives us nuts to see people on their phones the whole time, or carrying on a conversation — an audience is PART of live theater). The timing of a joke or a moment of suspense. When a light or sound cue might occur because of a reaction in the house. How an actor plays this moment or that. We do not know what we really have until we have who we’re doing it for.  We might think a moment is super effective, but of course we do if we’ve been staring at it for a month and know what it was supposed to do. An audience might walk in and not get it at all, or not find this thing funny at all, or be moved by another moment in any way.

We take all of that feedback in. The actors and designers and technicians all stay after a preview and talk about it. We make adjustments. And then we do it again. These are rehearsals for us, but with an audience. This is also why we don’t invite the local critics or the Theatre Tampa Bay judges. That wouldn’t be fair.

Now, most of the time these changes are just tweaks, Making a good thing better. Sometimes they are a bit more drastic.

And, of course, there is the opportunity for the whole cast and crew to treat it as an opportunity to get the nerves out. Not because we’re actually scared, it’s just that we don’t know what we have until other people see and react to it. That’s kinda exciting AND terrifying.

Where it is like the movie sneak preview is that we, too, hope that audiences walk away talking the show up in advance of our opening weekend and help get that word of mouth machine clicking.

All of our previews are priced at just $15. That’s almost half price! You’re in a way doing us a favor and we’re giving you a huge break on tickets for being our “test audience.”

 

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Get in touch with Artistic Director David M. Jenkins for all business and production related questions and touring information.

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