Candice has spent a chunk of time making a passionate plea here, on meganshead. Her comments are worth checking out. And this post is my response to her.
You are right. You have come to this sorry affair late. And you are right as well about how deflating, demoralising and depressing it is to not get audiences. I promise you, I know what that is like.
However, I think you are giving our hideous and over-publicised debacle too much credit. I cannot see this tiny scandal influencing the size of Assassins audiences. I am pretty sure that there are a few who might raise this as a petty excuse not to go and see it, but then I am certain they wouldn’t have come anyway. I believe that your lack of audiences might have many contributing factors; some of which you bring up yourself. Here is my opinion.
1. Lack of publicity. I have been more than a little curious and nosy, but for the life of me I could not find any info about when Assassins was opening. (I find it funny that it ended up happening on the same night that my play, The Tent opened its showcase, to its own tiny audience, but that’s another story.) I don’t think anyone knew that the show was running yet.
2. The price. You are right. R200 a ticket is the kind of thing that puts an undecided audience member off. We all need to remember that price is not as much of a consideration if people are clear about what they want to see; I believe HSM is doing a roaring trade. That’s what people want to see. And TheatreSports too, because it’s dirt cheap.
3. Lack of Internet visibility. If you Google Assassins or The NewSpace on South African pages you only get a few outdated bits of info. This is a huge problem. There is no official website for the theatre. The face book groups and pages for Assassins and The NewSpace are not constantly updated. What this also means is that, every time anyone Googles, they get my blog, or Big Friendly’s.
4. The info on the poster is wrong, too small and not very effective.
5. Sondheim remains obscure, unknown and meaningless to the majority of South Africans. They have no idea that he wrote Sweeney Todd. They only remember Johnny Depp. However valuable the piece Assassins is, it is a really difficult one to sell. South Africans vaguely know that some American presidents were assassinated and there was an attempt on Ronnie Reagan’s life; but certainly not the why, how and who. And I don’t know if they care enough to see the musical based on it.
6. This next point is entirely my own opinion and I could be completely wrong, but, I think that if you carry the legacy of a historical, watershed, landmark place like The Space Theatre, you have to make a more obvious, inclusive, meaningful choice about what the first production is. I am not devaluing Assassins but questioning its appropriateness. You say about the theatre, “It is there to serve the community if the community lets it do that.” Your sentiment is right, just the definition of the community Assassins serves is a bit skewed.
Candice, I feel for you and your whole cast and crew. You guys have to stick it out. There is an economic crisis, competition in the form of a musical aimed at children (and another one coming!) and traditional and alternative theatre shows are struggling to stay afloat. It is hard. For all of us.
I need to be honest. I can’t see myself coming to see Assassins. Even though it is a cast to die for. Even though I would love to see the space. Some of my reasons are deeply personal (I am also away or working from now on).
I think you have used this forum well; to create publicity and interest in your show. I think you are brave, committed and passionate. I look forward to seeing you on stage. And I loved you in Chess by the way.