I don’t really have time to do this blog, there are a lot of thoughts bouncing around that I just can’t take the time to deal with right now. But I thought I would throw the question out there. The big question is “What is the next step for DC theater?”
Yesterday a friend of mine showed surprise that I hoped to return to DC once I finish graduate school (if i get in). Why would you return, he said, DC has reached saturation. Implying that new work would start to be stifled here and theaters struggle to maintain the audiences they have, as well as implying the amount of dramaturgs grows strong with available work becoming limited.
Today in the Post I read about Theater Alliance’s continuing struggles. They are having trouble getting an audience at H Street which is certainly a problem that we have had at Forum. The patrons who do attend the smaller theaters are smart and active. There is so much being produced that theaters are constantly fighting for them as Paul Douglas Michnewicz, artistic director Theater Alliance says,
In addition, with multiple choices in the city, theatergoers are spread thin. “Washington has experienced such a big explosion in the arts, and I’m not sure that the audience has kept up with the explosion,” Michnewicz said.
Atlas Executive Director Patrick Stewart gave an example: “You’ve got a lot of companies that are producing edgy new work. . . . As a lover of that kind of theater, do I purchase four subscriptions?” Not likely. People instead will pick and choose “four to six hot shows a year.” But theater companies need subscribers to be financially stable.
There are so many companies, so many shows, and so many great and creative people who are excited to create and discover. Yet there is something we all lack: our audience. This is a rather large city. There is untapped potential for audience here. How to get it when you can’t afford the massive advertising and listing fees the Post charges? When the City Paper and their new management cut back on theater reviews? When there are so many lobbyists and organizations vying for attention? How do we expand the audience to equal out the artists?