Friday, June 15, 2007

And you wonder why people don't go to the theatre...

44. The attempt to market and sell theatre is as useful a concept as an attempt to market and sell air.

This is from George Hunka's superfluities as part of his "Organum".

It was brought to my attention by Don Hall.

George says a lot of theoretical things about theatre that I agree with - or find worth thinking about - on his blog. Unfortunately, it's often so pretentiously written, that when someone says to me they hate theatre because it takes itself too seriously or makes fun of it by pronouncing it "the-ah-t-ah", I think of George's blog.

However, the gem above is really sad. It's a demonstration of a myopic understanding of how people in our culture value information. And more importantly, how information is disseminated.

Of course, maybe George is working from a different definition of "marketing" than the rest of us.

But that would be telling too.

If this is the way many people in theatre think about spreading the news that there's a show in town worth seeing, theatre deserves to die the slow horrible death it seems to be enjoying.

I, for one, think marketing theatre, marketing shows, marketing anything that might make people think, act or reconsider life very very useful.

8 comments:

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Freeman said...

Hey there...don't know if you've seen this post of mine, but it speaks to that a bit. I completely agree:

http://matthewfreeman.blogspot.com/2007/05/genre.html

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Malachy Walsh said...

Vera KNOWS marketing!

J Cale said...

For the record:

mar·ket·ing [mahr-ki-ting] –noun
1. the act of buying or selling in a market.
2. the total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing, and selling.

cgeye said...

There's something everyone in this discussion is overlooking: The century-long rivalry specifically between people who use their liberal arts education for the arts, or for advertising/public relations.

If your senior year in college was anything like mine, you were told by career counselors to start marketing yourself for a career in business, unless you absolutely, positively chose to go for a career in arts. While other students bought business suits and went through rounds of interviews, I completed and defended my thesis on [insert not-often-produced playwright here], and congratulated the acquaintances who began careers with a consultant or Fortune 500 company, or those who decided to stick it out in graduate school, for their arts field.

Those who became marketers could still stay friends, but unless you were born with an abnormal inattention regarding status and money, it's hard to keep equal relationships with people when you a) want to hit them up for donations for the latest project or b) feel prompted to reexamine why you made such a lousy, unlucrative career choice, when said friends are on their second house and fourth car.

Yes, this is a class issue, and it gets worse when you factor in all the messages from family, asking why you didn't go for the corporate marketing job, you're smart enough to think of those snappy jingles....

So, this reluctance toward marketing is more than ignorance. It also involves pride -- the bits wounded from pursuing a non-living-wage profession, when unlike teachers or first responders, we can't even say how we directly and immediately help people, and the vestigial bits we have left, that get activated through envy and regret.

Or, that could be just me....

Malachy Walsh said...

I don't know if it's just you, but I didn't have that experience. I chose the arts and did a number of different things - from pumping gas to working in journalism to selling books.

Though I didn't find my way into heavy involvement with theatre until later (I did writer a play or two in college, but that was it), all the while I was working at night writing novels and short stories.

I eventually ended up working in advertising as a writer to put food on the table.

And I simply looked as marketing as something to use I saw fit, as I needed it, without prejudice.

That doesn't mean I didn't get an icky feeling when people talked about "marketing themselves" while in college.

But I hope it's clear from my post, marketing is not evil. It's simply a perspective on what you do and how you talk about with certain people etc.

Malachy Walsh said...

By the way cgeye, I just reread this part of your response and I do totally understand this bit - which I think is somethign we all feel at various times....


"So, this reluctance... is more than ignorance. It also involves pride -- the bits wounded from pursuing a non-living-wage profession, when unlike teachers or first responders, we can't even say how we directly and immediately help people..."

Astute.