The Playgoer: Broadway on the cheap

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Broadway on the cheap

Ben Sisario's NYT piece yesterday reporting on his adventures in getting Broadway ticket discounts is amusing but barely scratches the surface. It's arguable that what keeps Broadway running is the fact that a majority of the audience is not paying full price. And it's not just TKTS. Sisario recounts joining TDF. But there's also countless mailing lists you can get on that send you 2 or 3 discount offers a day. (Unfortunately they're usually for "Tarzan" or "Drumstruck"!) Theatermania, Playbill, you name it. All the major theatre sites have them, even elaborate "Audience Extra"-style membership plans.

Of course, I'd like to see the Times run an article one day showing how you can see many of the great theatre companies of the world at BAM for under $30. Or subscribe to one of our local non-profit companies, see the work of some of our foremost actors, playwrights, and directors for around $150 a whole season.

But who's profit margin would that help?


parabasis said...

Here's a question Garrett that i think we have to grapple with (myself inculded):

Why do we rag on the Times so much? I think they deserve it, don't get me wrong, their theater jounralism (and their second string critic) leave a lot to be desired. But here's the thing...

It's not like any of the other major dailies or weeklies are printing these articles. Neither is NEW YORK, for that matter. Hell, neither are theater-devoted magazines, really.

So why is it all the Times responsibility?

(Just so you know, I'm not asking this rhetorically... I feel the same way as you do, I'm just trying to analyze where this comes from)

Anonymous said...

"all the news that's fit to print" must be held to a higher standard because it itself asks to be held to that standard

Anonymous said...

I'll read an opinion online, for free.

But when it comes to the Times, eventually I asked myself, why pay a dollar a day to read reviews that generally argue against going out to the theatre tonight?

By saving those dollars, I was able to go to a few more shows a year and come to my own conclusions about good and bad - which was a much more interesting experience than reading the opinions printed in that paper.

Playgoer said...

I take your point, Isaac. I've been thinking lately of my attitude toward the Times. Perhaps, if, as bloggers, we wish to be taken seriously as journalists, then we might need to consider treating the Times as "fellow journalists". Not that we are. But I suppose we can't really join that fellowship if we don't acknowledge a base level of respect.

It is interesting we (theatre bloggers, that is) have kind of fixated on Isherwood in particular. But, hey, the man keeps giving us so much good stuff! He just seems so diametically opposed to the more radical agenda we all have. I imagine all MSM critics are. But Isherwood just has a way of so imagining such a reader and goading him/her.

If we all take a breath, though, we'll ackowledge that he's an effective writer with a strong viewpoint. And I think we need more of that in criticism not less, even when we disagree with the views. And, to say the least, the man is entitled to his opinion.

On the other hand...

I do consider "Media Criticism" a valid topic for a blog. And that's exactly what I consider myself doing when I dissect a NYT piece. Taking on media criticism does involve, though, setting yourself up as an "outsider". And it also usually makes sense only to take on major media outlets like the Times. The point of media criticism is NOT to just rag on journalists. The point is to critique the coverage that is most inluential in shaping public opinion.

I think many of us would agree that in the arts, the New York Times is a huge force in "public opinion"--on a national scale--at least for those who work in and follow the fields of theatre, books, art, and classical. (And to a lesser extent film, tv, and pop music.) Especially (repeat, especially) *theatre*, since it is the hometown paper of the acknowledged theatre capital. There are other NYC papers, but the authority invested in the Times on cultural matters (for whatever reason) is indisputable.

Having said all that, I would concede that pursuing spirited media criticism, but with more respect for the motives of individual journlaists--while still respectfully disagreeing with their views as one would want to do with "colleagues"--strikes me as a laudable goal.