Fast forward two years, and here I am with a full time day job, rent and school loans to pay, and lo and behold- the stretches between my own sojourns to the theatre have gotten regrettably longer. I can only imagine if my evenings and weekends were filled with lesson and production preparations for my students that I would indeed stand even less of a chance of getting to the theatre as often as I do now.
Well, recognizing that you have a problem is the first step to working towards a solution, right? When it occurred to me in the middle of this long and brutal winter that it had been almost six months since I had seen a production of any kind in Boston, I knew I wanted to break this streak of theatrical drought. Here's a few strategies I discovered in my search to keep seeing new work in my city, hopefully they might help you wherever you are too:
1. Try checking out a local high school production. A dear friend of mine has been teaching and directing at a local high school and I had the pleasure of going to see their mainstage show earlier this year. You can purchase a ticket to a high school show often for under $10 and the experience is priceless. Sitting in the audience looking around at all the proud parents, friends, and teachers is enough to make you glad you came, and when the curtain goes up, you are likely to witness young performers with enthusiasm, heart, and an energy that is often missing among jaded veterans of the field (myself included!) Every time I've gone to a high school show, I walk away smiling, thinking "That's why I make theatre."
2. Volunteer to usher at a local theatre and see the show for free! Another dear friend turned me on to this brilliant idea. Visit the website of any of your local theatres, and very likely they will have a section where you can learn more about volunteering some of your time as an usher in exchange for seeing the production free of charge. I ushered at a local theatre recently, and was pleasantly surprised at how simple the job was. I got to greet folks as they came in, gave them a program, and helped a few find their seats; it was a great feeling to actively be part of the theatre community. And as promised, after the curtains came up, I was free to enjoy the show. Try it with a friend and grab some dinner beforehand to make an evening of it.
3. Take advantage of pay-what-you-can performances. I love pay-what-you-can nights at the theatre and am excited to see more companies offering this option. The idea is to give whatever you can at the door of the theatre, whether that be $1 or $20. Pay-what-you-can always feels good because often it's offered by a company or ensemble looking to open their doors to the entire community--not just the people that can afford a $50 ticket (most of the time, that's not me at all). Plus, it has helped me to see shows or companies that I might not otherwise have seen, which is always a good thing.
4. Check out local college and university theatre departments' showcases. Often times, the end of year showcases for acting classes at a conservatory program are open to the public and are free of charge. I've even seen full length workshop productions advertised for free and open to the public, so you never know what you may get the chance to see. You may even find that there are design and production showcase events. Regardless of whether or not you identify as a designer, any exposure to new and interesting costume, lighting, set, and sound design will stick with you and help to inspire your own work, Personally, this is an option I have not yet taken advantage of in Boston, but is in my sights for the spring semester.
How long has it been since you've been to a performance? Any suggestions for ways to see more theatre where you live?