About Me

My photo
Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Roundabout Responds

I received the following message from The Roundabout, in response to the general and shared concern expressed about ticket prices. Encouraging, I'd say:

I’d like to thank you very much for your great comments on Pig Farm. As you mentioned that you are 30 years old, and that you wish tickets would be $20, I wanted to tell you about HIPTIX.

We started HIPTIX as an audience development program. Tickets are usually $31.25 for plays and $36.25 for musicals and they are available to audience members aged 18-35. It is completely free to join. For Pig Farm, we have certain days of the week for only $16.25. I would love it if you would check out
www.HIPTIX.com and urge your readers to do so as well.

Well then, can't hurt to sign up can it? The Roundabout produces some fantastic theatre during the year, and any service that provides those of us under the age of 36 to spend a little less and see a little more is a very good thing.

(Glad to know I could as "Hip" by the way. I'd like "www.BadassTix.com" to be specifically designed for my demographic someday.)



Ian said...

This is definitely a good start. But did anyone read the interview with Oskar Eustis in New York Magazine a few weeks ago? You can be forgiven for missing it, as New York Magazine seems to cater exclusively to a readership of trust fund babies and Upper East Side society matrons (how many articles about "how to find a deal in the Hamptons" can you publish every year?), but this was sitting on someone's dressing room table one night and it was quite an interesting read. Mr. Eustis was being interviewed about his plans for the Public Theater, and much was made about the fact that both his parents were big kahunas in the American Communist Party (apparently as a kid he "wore red diapers" and to this day calls almost everyone "comrade"). He has a plan for what he calls "radical accessibility" to the theater, a phrase I'm totally stealing. The plan is to make sure that absolutely no one is shut out of any production at the Public for economic reasons. The interviewer seemed a little incredulous, asking if he was just planning on giving every ticket to everything away for free, since that's really the only way to ensure the kind of "radical accessibility" Eustis is talking about. Eustis acknowledged that he couldn't just do that tomorrow, but yeah, his plan is to work with the board to ensure a funding package that lets them eliminate ticket prices altogether. Everyone gets in free, to everything.

Crazy? Sure, but I love it. And it's not as ridiculous as it sounds: ticket prices account for a pittance of the total production costs anyway, so it's not much of a stretch to write them off altogether - if you're a nonprofit. I just met someone who does a lot of nonprofit theater accounting and I told her about this, and she said something that completely blew my mind: "Sure, that's the first rule of nonprofit accounting - you have to be able to balance the books with absolutely no income from ticket sales. Any good accountant in this field starts with the assumption that no one will pay for a ticket and insists that an organization be able to cover costs through their own fundraising."

This is pretty wild to think about, but what if a theater found ways to work without a box office? Practically no nonprofit theater covers even a quarter of their costs with ticket/subscription sales; what if they could raise an equivalent amount of extra money some other way, and then just give the tickets away? I actually become dizzy thinking about the implications of this. I think it's worth exploring.

Joshua James said...

I bummed because now I am too old for HIPTIX - not fair!

sgridley said...

I just signed up! 16.50? That sounds about right! I just saw a show for $18 that had a bench and a loaf of bread as a set and three clip lights for a light plot. Sometimes you can feel a little ripped of in theatre. At least at Roundabout you know they're not going to pull any bleak-Beckett minimalism "our shows are desolate because life is desolate" crap. You're going to see a set that looks more livable than your own appartment and they're doing Pig Farm! My thoughts on the set during the show: "hmmm. Spacious. Very tall ceilings. Electricity AND running water. Just needs a paint job! Nice! -- Oh, it's just make believe. Shame." Theatres should donate their sets to the homeless. All they gotta do is find a fourth wall. Lean it up against a building or something.

Here's a marketing idea for Hiptxs. Roundabout: We're losing money so hipsters don't have to. (please verify hipness at box office)

Here's a donation slogan:
Theatre: Have you tried throwing money at the problem? (We accept paypal.)

And here's another slogan:
Why NOT theatre?

And another:
Feel the HEAT in tHEATre this year... at the fringe('s un airconditioned tHEATers)