The Playgoer: "Programmes"

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Friday, February 23, 2007


Lyn Gardner is a theatre blogger after my own heart, I must say. A great ranter, ready to let fly against whatever in her playgoing is peeving her these days on the other side of the pond.

Her target this week in the Guardian is..."programmes." That is, The Playbill.

Now in London you actually pay for the full programme. But you get a lot more with it. (Some theatres, like the National will still give you a bare-bones cast list free.)

Personally I'm a glutton for reading whatever a production wants to give me on the show. But Lyn takes some amusing swipes I think we can all relate to in at least some cases.

There are plenty of other things I know I don't want in a programme. I don't want to read a dull essay from a dull academic about the importance of Shakespeare/ Ibsen/Shaw etc. I never, ever want a note from the director telling me what to think about his or her production; I'll decide that myself, thank you very much.

Ok, I can do without some of the Directors Notes I've seen. Still, I do think the paucity of interesting content in our programs here is embarassing compared to the European model.

If you don't want 'em, Lyn, send them to me!


June said...

I have to disagree with you here. Sure, the National does great programs (and they're relatively cheap), but other than perhaps the RSC, you pay a lot of money (up to $10!) for a lot of nothing. Even wonderful companies, like Kneehigh, or strong theaters like the Lyric Hammersmith produce glossy photo-heavy souvenirs with little more than bare-bones bios and a tiny bit of (often very) wanky text.

Having grown up in Britain and often felt rotten that I didn't have the money for the program to find out what the actors/director had done before, I LOVE Playbill. Sure, the features are superficial (and, if you go to the theater a lot, repetitive) but I whole-heartedly believe that theater programs should be advertiser-supported.

Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

I really do hate the fact that you cannot receive a Playbill-type publication when seeing British Theatre. It peeves me that you have to pay the equivalent of $10 (or more) just for the privilege of knowing anything about the production.

Fortunately, on this side of the Atlantic, you get all that information for free (thanks advertisers!), but if you want a souvenir program from larger shows, you can pay for the option.