Is a night out a special thing?
A couple weeks ago, Kerri and I took a road trip together. For those who aren’t familiar with her, Kerri is our marketing guru. She designs Horizon Stage’s posters and ads, writes a lot of text, makes our Facebook look good, and so much more. Why a road trip? A few times a year, a group of Theatre Managers in the province get together to discuss topics of mutual interest, and sometimes we bring in other people in our organizations. Most recently, we brought our marketing people. So, off to Medicine Hat we went to explore The Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre. It’s a beautiful complex; housing a theatre, art gallery, museum, the City’s archives, meeting spaces, a rooftop terrace, and more. All that, and it has a view of the river valley too! It was a really great chance for us to see how their theatre operates, and that’s part of why we do these tours and meetings. We each in turn host the others, so we can show off our own venues, and discuss our successes and challenges. The time we get to spend in the room with like-minded people in our industry is invaluable, and we’re all proud of the collaboration and partnerships we’ve built in the last couple of years.
During the course of our conversations that day, someone said “People don’t see going to the theatre as special anymore”. That was interesting to me on several levels, so I thought I’d throw it out to you today. There are pros and cons to this statement, of course.
Here’s what I see as “good” about the idea: If going out to see live shows in a performing arts theatre is no longer considered “special”, does that mean that we do it so often that we take is as a regular part of life? Does that make it an indisputable part of our routine, like soccer practice, the library, or the movies? If so, then I applaud this sentiment. Taking the “luxury” out of it and making it “normal” is wonderful in my opinion. It should be something we do with our spouses, kids, friends, and neighbours. It shouldn’t be a monumental undertaking that we do only infrequently.
On the other hand: If it’s not “special” anymore, does that mean we don’t have a healthy respect for the skill and the work that goes in to getting it to us? Does that mean we don’t treat it with the care and attention it deserves, and we have somehow made it so “ordinary” that it is no longer awe-inspiring? This concerns me, because I see the behind-the-scenes work and I respect it immensely. Having worn many hats in my life, as a dancer, a dance teacher, an event coordinator, the parent of artistic children, and the person responsible for programming our venue, I know first-hand how many people and hours it takes to mount a successful, quality performance, and I cringe at the thought that anybody would be dismissive of that effort. Between the time and planning of creation, rehearsal, travel, technical preparation, marketing, ticket sales, and the rest of the pieces that go into a show, I hope everyone in the audience understands that what looks natural and smooth to you is the result of a lot of dedication and energy on the part of many.
So I guess my purpose with this column today is simply to ask you how you view the performing arts. Is it an occasional treat? Is it a part of your every day? Perhaps, even if it is a common practice for you, it is still distinctive. Perhaps you still love walking through the theatre doors and feeling the anticipation as the lights fade. Perhaps you still get goosebumps when something is “just right” or an emotion touches you. I hope so, because to me, that would be the best of all worlds. That’s where I want to live. Thanks for sharing that with us.
-Brandi Watson, Theatre Manager