Thursday, June 28, 2012

What Could We Do?

A couple of weeks ago I posted probably the most widely read and commented on post I have done. Comments came not only on the blog but through emails and other blog posts. The post asked if a drop in audiences was becoming epidemic. Aaron Anderson posted on the blog that he thinks the problem is lack of managers who are dedicated to that job and experienced enough to do it well, Jeremy Wechsler commented on his blog that he thinks selling tickets isn’t enough or maybe isn’t the thing to do at all. A manager who emailed me said it was all in the reviews – in the Chris Jones reviews.

There is so much here in terms of marketing and engagement, an extraordinarily complex question, too often answered in simplistic terms. I asked in my last post where to start? Is it with the marketing? Is it maybe about getting an expert to look at marketing for your last show and working with you to create a plan for your next show and looking to increase your audience by x number? That seems simplistic but at the same time…you have to start somewhere. It’s about sociology and demographics and economics and so much more.

But what can the League do? One of our jobs is to help you sell tickets – to promote Chicago theatre. Outside of what we already do – promotions, advertising, Hot Tix, press releases, website, etc. What do you think is the one thing (or more than one) that the League could do?


Participate in the North Shore Center's Showcase

The North Shore Center's SHOWCASE is an annual trade show of talent, attracting approximately 100 performers, speakers, and educational enrichment programs. Through this event, it is the goal of the North Shore Center to provide an opportunity not only for entertainers to present their talents to potential audiences, but also for attendees to observe the wide array of talents available for their youth programming. If your organization provides educational programs, consider participating in this year’s Showcase on August 29th at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie at 9501 Skokie Blvd. Find out more by visiting

Monday, June 25, 2012

20% Theatre Yard Sale

20% Theatre Company is holding its Annual Yard Sale this Saturday, June 30th, 2012 starting at 11am until 4pm. The Yard Sale will be on the corner of Berwyn and Glenwood. We will be selling clothing, housewares, books, jewelry, small appliances and office supplies. All profits will go to benefit 20% Theatre's 10th season; anything not sold will be donated to Brown Elephant at the end of the sale. Please join us!

Industry Ticket Offers

Oedipus El Rey by Luis Alfaro - Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. is offering $15 industry tickets for previews June 29 - July 8. To purchase call 773.871.3000 and use code INDUSTRY or visit *Offer only valid on performances June 29-July 8, 2012. Offer expires July 8, 2012. You must enter the promotion code prior to purchase to receive this offer. Not valid on previously purchased tickets. Offer cannot be combined with any other offers or discounts. Service fees may apply.

VisionFest 4 - LiveWire Chicago in the Envision Gallery at Flourish Studios, 3020 N. Lincoln Ave., is offering Industry $12 single program tickets with code 'community' and $18 Saturday marathon tickets with code 'livewireplays' for our final performances this weekend. Tickets must be purchased online at Offer not valid at door. More info at

The Drawer Boy - Buffalo Theatre Ensemble, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn. $10 Industry tickets for all performances July 12 to 29. Actor’s tickets are available with headshot and resume and designer tickets are available with business card or resume. Subject to availability. For more information call (630) 942-4000.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Industry Ticket Offer

OR, - Caffeine Theatre at Theater on the Lake, 2401 N. Lake Shore Drive, is offering $10 industry tickets to performances Friday, June 22 at 7:30pm, Saturday, June 23 at 7:30pm, and Sunday, June 24 at 6:30pm. Tickets may be purchased by calling 312-742-7994 and mentioning the code CAFFEINE. Visit for more information.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Are You a Playwright or a Critic?

I was lucky enough to hear Terry Teachout speak at the American Theatre Critics Conference last week.  I know many of you had some or all of the critics at your theatres last week.   I wanted to go to this meeting in particular because I wanted to meet Terry (who is the critic for the Wall Street Journal) has been so incredibly supportive of Chicago theatre.  He was very nice and charming.  His talk was about the power of enthusiasm and he talked about the critics role in supporting the work as well as being critical.  He said that a rant is super fun to write but in the end not especially helpful for anyone.

I see a lot of shows and people always ask me if I get sick of it and I don’t, because it is very rare that I see a show that doesn’t move me in some way.  He travels all over the country to see shows – he probably sees more shows than I do and he has to fly to the cities they are in.  And, it’s not just about the big theatres in every town, it’s about all theatre everywhere (although I do get the sense that he’s partial to musicals).  And he loves it – this guy loves theatre.  It was so refreshing to hear someone talk about how much he loves his job and what makes it worthwhile and to say to the critics if you love a show you should say it loud and even stand up if you are so moved.  He was planning to go to BoHo that night – wonderful company, well-respected, good work – but I don’t imagine they get too many national critics in the house. 

He has written a play and it’s getting produced this summer.  When I heard that I thought harrumph…are you a playwright or a critic?  Turns out he’s also been a professional musician and has written lots of stuff, books and librettos…  So, I guess he doesn’t feel like he has to choose and when his play opens I hope it’s met with the same love and enthusiasm he brings every night to the theatre.


Industry Ticket Offers

War Horse – Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W Randolph, is offering an industry pre-sale to purchase tickets to see this remarkable tale of courage, loyalty and friendship before they go on sale to the general public. Click here and use code LEAGUE when ordering. Visit for more information.

The Merchant of Venice - First Folio Theatre at Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 W. 31st St. in Oak Brook, is offering $10 industry tickets to Wednesday performances at 8:15 p.m. July 11 - August 15. Tickets may be purchased at the box office. Professionals must bring a union card, a headshot/resume, tech resume, or business card indicating employment in the theater business. More info at

Monday, June 18, 2012

Theatrical Material and Equipment Available for Free

Classics on Stage is offering theatrical material and equipment for free to other theatre companies. Includes set pieces and drops, costumes, props, sound equipment including Shure PZM type floor mics, various amplifiers and a good quality mixer, lots of lighting (fresnels, PAR "cans," various other including mirror ball and rain light as well as plenty of cable, projector and some "wheels," color wheels, and more. Contact Bob at for more information or to arrange a meeting.

Office Space for Lease in Chicago Dramatists Building

Historic commercial storefront building with updated lobby, elevator, 24/7 access. Prominent corner location at Chicago, Milwaukee, and Ogden. Unparalleled transportation with CTA Blue line station a few steps away, bus stop at thedoor, and I-90/94 within blocks. Home to Chicago Dramatists, Big Shoulders Coffee Works, and other small, arts-related tenants.

Available: 800 sf. Private suite with three connected offices for lease on third floor. $950 month plus gas and electric, separately metered. Annual lease

Available: Private desk/cubicle in shared office. Internet access, copy machine, conference room. Monthly lease at $250. or call Vicki at 312-421-1131.

Rehearsal Space Availability at City Lit

A 4-week prime-time rehearsal space will be available at City Lit Theater right off the Bryn Mawr "L" stop. It will be available from August 13-September 9. Contact Brian Pastor at or (773) 293-3682 for rates and info.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Last Saturday I went to a show in a 99 seat house that had 18 audience members, I also heard about a show that was cancelling performances because they had no reservations. Then I got a link to this and I started wondering if we had an epidemic on our hands. But then I thought, no, I can name at least as many shows that were sold out this weekend.

I’d like to see them all sold out. The League does a lot of marketing of Chicago theatre and a lot of PR around Chicago theatre. Can we be doing more? Always…but we are limited by resources. So, I started thinking about specifically targeting new audiences – that would be local people who don’t go to theatre now. The Free Night of Theatre program is focused on getting people to a theatre they haven’t been to before and Hot Tix is also focused on bringing in new audiences (although those audiences are as likely to be tourists as they are to be residents). Could we maybe expand on the Free Night message – there is a great theatre in your neighborhood – go check it out? How would we do that? What media would we use? Are we using social media in the best and most targeted way? What kind of a goal could we have to measure success? Beyond that, are theatres using their current patrons and their patron data to retain and attract new audiences? Are there more ways we can help with that?

The goal is important. What number do we start with and where do we move it. What tools do we use? I’m curious to know your thoughts on this.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Industry Ticket Offers

Rent – American Theater Company, 1909 W. Byron, is offering half-price industry tickets for performances Wednesday June 13 and Wednesday June 20 at 8 p.m. Available in-person at the box office or by calling audience services at 773-409-4125.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


I was on vacation last week, travelling in Portugal. It was beautiful and I love to travel and there were so many wonderful things to see and do. In a small town called Evora there was some kind of a book festival going on and we wandered down to the center of town at about 10:00 at night and there was a storyteller on stage and an audience of about 200 people listening, it was so beautiful. In Lisbon we went to a Fado house and saw some incredible Fado singers. Gorgeous, if you’ve never heard it – I would describe it as having the passion of opera combined with folk music. We saw wonderful old churches and castles and the most glorious tile work I have ever seen.

But you know what’s the best? I missed my Chicago. As wonderful as Europe is…you know, all those old churches and other old stuff, what we have here is extraordinary. Walking around Chicago rivals walking around almost any city in Europe. And of course the theatre…unrivaled. On the way home I met two honeymooners on their way to Chicago and I was so excited to tell them where to go and what to do. I love doing that.

And the other thing that’s best? I’m re-energized for the work. It was a great vacation but I’m glad to be home and I can’t wait to see some theatre.


Lunar Eclipse 2012

Saturday, June 16 at 8 p.m. at the Eclipse Theatre Rehearsal Space
4001 N. Ravenswood, Suite 402
 It's that time again! Come celebrate the 2012 Summer Solstice and network with all of us at Eclipse as well as our friends from the Chicago Theatre community! The night kicks off at 8pm at our swanky digs:

Come on by for
•A great variety of beer and wine
•Lots and lots of great appetizers
•Music & dancing
•A chance to mingle and network with some of the coolest artists in Chicago Theatre Actors -

If you are in a show that night, please come by afterwards! We'll be going into the wee hours of the night! Actors, Designers, Directors, Artists - feel free to bring your picture & resume! $15 suggested donation or whatever you can donate at the door, or donate $10 or more in advance by clicking the link to the right. All donations help cover the cost of our event. Click here for more information.

Industry Ticket Offers

Sweet Confinement - SiNNERMAN Ensemble at Theater on the Lake, 2400 N. Lake Shore Dr. is offering $10 industry tickets to the show and TOTL's 60th Anniversary celebration on Wednesday, June 13 at 7:30 p.m.. Pre-show birthday party with cake, cocktails, and a pre-show performance will take place in the southern pavilion beginning at 6 p.m. For tickets call 312.742.7994 and mention code BIRTHDAY.

Chicago Live! - UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave. is offering 50% off the $19 ticket price to the Thursday, June 7, 7 p.m. show with Phylicia Rashad and Paul Oakley Stovall discussing the new play, Immediate Family. For tickets click here and use code STAGE.

Chicago Dramatists Summer 2012 Classes

Always Wanted To Write But Didn’t Know Where to Start? This Summer: Become a Playwright at Chicago Dramatists

A national leader in playwright training, Chicago Dramatists offers a variety of professional playwriting classes designed for both beginning and experienced playwrights. Classes are focused on building practical skills and stage-worthy scripts, and are conducted in a supportive, positive environment. Most classes include a mixture of lecture, discussion, writing assignments (both in and out of class), reading and critiquing participants’ work.

A teacher or acting-school student? Receive 15% off and if you’re a theater undergrad or grad student, receive 40% off! Discounts for seniors and first timers are also available along with the full listing of classes at  Hurry! Registration is limited!

2012 ATCA Perspectives in Criticism Lecture by Terry Teachout

The American Theatre Critics Association and Chicago Shakespeare Theater invite League member theatres to hear Wall Street Journal theatre critic Terry Teachout speak on "The Power of Enthusiasm," which will be the 2012 ATCA Perspectives in Criticism lecture. Terry will speak at 11AM, Friday, June 15, in the Skyline Room at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. The talk, and a question and answer period to follow, will conclude no later than Noon. CST is offering their reduced-price parking area at Navy Pier for those driving to the event. Prior to the Perspectives in Criticism address, the American Theatre Critics Association will present major playwriting awards to Caridad Svich and Darren Canady, both authors well-known to Chicago audiences and League members. League guests are invited to attend this portion of the morning as well, which will begin about 10:15AM. This event is free for League members but space is limited. RSVP to to attend.

As theatre critic for the Wall Street Journal, Terry Teachout has recognized that he writes for a national publication, despite its very New York City name. As such, he's made theatre a national beat and not merely a local one, traveling frequently to cities and theatre venues across the country to review and comment. He's been to Chicago many times in just a few years, taking in shows at smaller neighborhood theatres and storefronts as well as our major institutions. In addition to his work as a critic, Terry also is a theatre and music scholar with several publications to his credit, and a produced playwright.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Office Space Availability at the Greenhouse Theater Center

Office Space available at the Greenhouse Theater Center. Available July 1st. Space sharing is an option. Office space includes electric, gas, internet access and phone lines with 24/7 building access. Please contact Jenn Kincaid for more information - or 773.404.7336 x200.