by Abigail Katz
In these tough economic times, most of us have had to reconsider how we spend our money. We've asked ourselves, "Do I really need it?" or "Can I get it cheaper?" or perhaps in the case of theatre, "How badly do I want to see it?" Ticket prices aren't going down, even with the current crisis, so what kind of theatre is worth our hard earned dollars?
There are shows I've wanted to see so badly I coughed up full price- $300 for The Coast of Utopia marathon, and $101 (remember those days?) to see the revival of Glengarry Glen Ross before any discounts were available. I'm sure there will be shows in the future that I'll want to see so much I will decide to just spend the money if I can't manage to score a comp from an industry colleague. If Spider-Man actually does manage to open, I might swing for that.
Now since I do have some access to comps because I work in the industry, I get to see a lot of shows without spending any money. That's great, and for that I am lucky, and I've had the opportunity to see some fantastic theatre that I would have gladly paid for. The flip side is that I also see a lot of shows that would not have been worth my money. I leave the theatre thinking, "Well I'm glad I didn't have to pay for that!" It's a luxury that the majority of theatre-goers don't have.
So while I support and encourage the production of plays and musicals and nurturing of new talent, I will admit there are that many productions that I see that I don't think are worth a $50, $75, or $125 ticket. Why? One word: mediocrity. So much theatre out there is so middle-of-the-road that it doesn't do anything, doesn't make me feel anything, doesn't offend me, doesn't thrill me. Even if it's a perfectly pleasant evening, is that worth spending money? I could have a perfectly pleasant evening at home reading, or watching a great movie or listening to music. For free. And in these times I would go for the free option.
Look, if all theatre were available for $25 a pop that would be different, but it isn't. So I challenge all theatre practitioners to rise above the mediocrity! Blow it up! Because if I'm going to pay full price or even a slightly reduced price for a theatre ticket, you better entertain me to the point of giddiness or else beat me to a pulp. That's worth my money.