I was thinking about Zelda Fichandler's remarks at her eponymous awards ceremony presented in DC by the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society in late October - the
one about theaters "operating like US Airlines" in particular - when I received my Goldstar listing of discounted
tickets via e-mail. I see I can attend Karen Zacarías's The Book Club Play at the Arena Stage
for a mere $50.75 plus an $8.00 fee. That's almost 60 dollars for a half-price ticket!
I saw the play when it ran a few years ago at The Round House (at a PWYC or for 20 bucks, I forget) and I thought
it was pretty funny then - nailing the dynamics of book clubs and the foibles of human nature in general. Personally
I would have advised Ms. Zacarías to write something else rather than waste her time perfecting a comedy of manners.
But then I'm just a critic and fan: What do I know about the nature of marketing in the theater?
The Arena would probably argue that the "Kogod Cradle" is a small space,
whose pricing is dictated by the limited number of seats. That may be, but we were led to believe that the rebuilding
of the theater would be in line with the old one as we loyally trudged across the river to Crystal City and back again.
The "technically sophisticated venue" looks in no way, shape, or form like the "Old Vat Room," where we
kicked back informally, at a fraction of the cost, to sample exciting or entertaining works. If The Book Club Play
has legs, and some of the reviews indicate it does, you'll find it soon enough at a ticket price that is less than astounding.
Intimacy in theater should be something to cherish, not break the bank.
© John F. Glass, November 3, 2011