Wednesday, May 13, 2009

La Gente Will Come

Rupert's Blog 5/12/09 – La Gente Will Come

It is opening night for us at Teatro Vivo, and the production is ready. We have been rehearsing for 5 weeks; the set has been built, painted, and installed; the lights have been focused and gels put in, costumes assembled and fit, props cleaned and ready to go. All these elements are behind the curtain—an area we have 100% control over. Okay, cars break down, people get sick, but you know what I mean.
But what happens in front of the curtain? In the "house" as it is known. Well, there is a similar process. Press releases are carefully prepared, with photos, bios, mock reviews, and our own feature story. We include past info or reviews of our shows and they go out. Posters are designed and disseminated by Motor Blade Postering, cards are delivered via US Postal Service. Radio ads are purchased from KUT, and we have created 30 seconds commercials that go to the cable networks and prayed they might run them. Then we wait, right?
We could do that. But we don't.
We know that many future audience members are not reading the Chronicle, the Statesman, West Austin News or listening to NPR or other programs on KUT. We know that when you are named "Teatro Vivo" that the public assumes that our plays are in Spanish. We also know that we would love to fill every seat in the house. You are paying for every seat in the theater and if you get someone to pay for it, great. If not, why leave it empty?
We do well in ticket sales. We are very, very grateful for that. And I can tell you that it is because of the great job that my wife Jo Ann does publicizing the show. And we do pretty well at filling the theater too. Oh, we have had those nights with only 50 or 60 people, but they are rare.
We go to the social service groups who are more than happy to take advantage of free tickets for their clients. These include Manos de Cristo, El Buen Samaritano and Casa Marianella. And then there are the Senior Community Centers that include Connelly-Guerrero, and others. We even have the wonderful Marisa Limon who works with these groups to arrange transportation through various sources.
Notices are sent to high school theater classes. Most National Honor Society groups must complete a cultural event requirement. We will give them a note that they attended. And how many business have employee groups wanting to do something together? Personal invites have results, I promise.
La gente will come, but it takes a little more than just the great PR packets and the ads. Once you learn how to do this, it gets easier and you get responses such as Jo Ann and I did the other day when we ran into a group of three senior señoras.
"When is your next play? We can't wait."

Open hearts, open minds,
Rupert Reyes

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