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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Call to Action

Denver theatre has hit a couple of bumps in the last week.
First there is the eviction and apparent dissolution of Theatre Group from their home at Theatre On Broadway.
This is followed by the sudden closing of Country Dinner Playhouse, a dinner theatre that has entertained Denver audiences for over a quarter of a century.
These troubles are not unique to Denver. The Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey, one of the country's most highly-acclaimed and respected regional theatres is encountering a few struggles of its own lately.
Unfortunately, modern live theatre has struggled to carve its own piece of the audience pie away from the T.V., movies, and sports.
We can either lament this fact, or we can start to do something about it, one ticket, one seat at a time.
We all have those friends who say, "I won't go to live theatre." Ever ask them why? Odds are they don't even remember. They probably saw some badly-realized production of a Neil Simon play. Take them to see a show by a theatre company that you know consistently delivers a quality show.
Maybe they saw Waiting for Godot, and didn't get it. Hey, you can't always start theatre-newbies off with absurdism. Take them to see a Ray Cooney play. Maybe they think musicals are just silly and pointless. Take them to Assassins.
We've all seen bad movies. Do we stop going to all movies? No. Don't let your friends and family off so easily when it comes to this art you love so much. Convert them. It can be done.
How many of us know somebody out there who has never been to a live theatre production. Take them. This weekend. Let's get proactive here.
Give away theatre tickets for birthdays and holidays. (Hey, theatre companies: if you're not offering gift certificates, you're missing out on an opportunity here.) If they don't get used, well, at least, the theatre company gets the ticket income. If they do get used, there's a chance that those companies will get life-long audience members.
If you read this blog regularly, you're probably at last a mild theatre buff. As a devotee of the theatrical arts you know what a unique experience a live production can be for its audience. Spread the word about that.
I'm not saying that you should stop going to the movies, or stop watching your favorite T.V. shows or even stop going to Rockies' games, but, if you seriously believe in the value of live theatre, make sure you factor as many plays and musicals into your recreation as you can, and take your friends and family.
I set a goal for myself to see 52 plays and musicals this year. I've seen over 30 as of this writing. I'm not independently wealthy. I look for bargains. I work live theatre into my budget.
Go see a play this weekend. Don't know what to see? Check out Colorado Theatre Guild. There's always a pretty comprehensive list complete with weblinks. During the schoolyear, check out the local colleges and high schools. When I see a good show that's still running, I'll write about it here. The opportunity to see quality live theatre is out there. Seize it. Theatre only becomes a "dying art" if we let it. Get active.

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