I took the jibe about TheatreSports personally (comment 14). Usually I’m not that sensitive so I tried to work out why I was this time, and I think I’ve come up with an answer. TheatreSports is loved; not only by those of us who perform it, but also by our audiences, who have proved their love by coming over and over again in the last 18 years. Of course there have been times when there’s been a bit of a dip in attendance, but I think that a theatrical product running mostly twice a week in Cape Town, for 18 years is testimony to the fact that audiences love it.
I got to thinking about how hard it is to get bums on seats in our theatres in Cape Town (and even in SA in general). Aside from the totally tried and tested big musicals (and not even those every time), shows really battle to do even short three week runs. My guess it is because most people don’t like theatre much; not enough to make it a regular thing anyway. And so I got to thinking why, and I have come up with a few reasons for that too. The first and most obvious reason is that theatre has a bit of a bad rep. I think most ordinary people think “it’s not for them”. I think most ordinary people think that theatre is intellectual, arty, fringe and high-brow, with only the big, well known mainstream musicals (in which at least some of the songs are known) being safe live fodder. I think most ordinary people think that theatre is expensive, especially when they could be making a horrible mistake and ending up being bored to tears, confused or intimidated. I think theatre can be quite scary for those who do not have theatre vocabulary or experience. I also think that most ordinary people have absolutely no, or very little trust in what reviewers, critics, theatre makers, and the publicity and marketing machines say about the shows.
And so to meganshead. It seems like I have developed a bit of a reputation for being a harsh judge of the stuff I see (even though, on average, I like and am complimentary about 70% of it) and I have had the sense lately that people think if I don’t like something it is because I have a problem. But why would I? I take my self appointed, opinionated and personal blog reviewing very, very seriously. I want my readers (however tiny my readership) to know what I thought, and for them to trust that it is an honest response. That way we can build an audience who trust a certain opinion and can feel safe about going to the theatre again and again, and even joyfully contesting what I say when they disagree.
I am a firm believer in “the audience is always right”. Nothing makes me happier than when a little sleeper of a production does better and better, selling out by the end of the run because friends have told friends to go and check it out. So thank you TheatreSports (and industrial theatre which is made for a target audience) for reminding me that the Audience is King.