Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

December 20, 2010 at 1:03pm

Before the show

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Here are more ways for you, the theater director, to impress the hopeful critic-me, and your paying customers.

There's so much amazing live and recorded entertainment in the South Sound that it's wasteful to pass up any possible method of connecting with your audience...which brings us to your pre-show experience. So many theaters squander the impact of imaginative lobby and program designs. Why waste that opportunity? Spray a fragrance that'll ease your patrons into the world of the show. Choose music that conveys a mood or thematic idea.

The first thing I do when I enter a theater proper is look at the set. I watch how it's revealed. Is it visible immediately, or have you saved it as a surprise? Do I feel comfortable in the theater? If not, is it because you decided to disorient me in some way to amplify location or theme? Bertolt Brecht, for example, would rather audience members were thinking than relaxing. Of course, I'd rather not be shivering, but I suppose it might serve some artistic purpose. Just make sure you had out cocoa at the intermission. There's not a critic (or audience member) alive who isn't mollified by free food and drink.

I read the entire program, starting with the Director's Note. I want to know what you, the director, think your show is about, and I watch to see how well you convey that idea.

Ah, the dreaded curtain speech. Man, I hate 'em. I'll just tell you that up front. You've done all this work to seduce me into the world of your show, then you yank off your carefully-chosen music and panhandle in contemporary clothing. I know theaters need money, now more than ever, but couldn't you at least devise a more creative way of asking for it? I love it when a director integrates curtain speeches into the environment of the show itself. Is there some reason your curtain speech couldn't be rephrased in, say, iambic pentameter? Could it be sung? Included in onstage graffiti? I'm just spitballing here, but if you haven't noticed by now, two of the chief things I look for in a show are focused creativity and consistency of setting and tone-what theater snobs call "unity." Y'know how some movies put the opening studio titles in a graphic style that resonates with the rest of the film? Yeah, I'm a sucker for that. Open your show in a way that lures me in, and you stand an exceptional chance of keeping me right where you want me...in the world you've helped create for two hours.

LINK: Script is king

Filed under: Arts, Tacoma, Olympia, Theater,
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