Cannibal’s Pie: Theatre Competition

There’s this thing called market share. You may have heard of it. It’s a pretty literal term measuring how big your slice of the pie is. For some calculations the pie is made of money and for others it’s a cannibal’s pie made of people.

I’m concerned about the cannibal pie right now. Audience. And what I really want to know is: how big is this pie? When I first started thinking about pies and such I had a little revelation: there are no slices in this pie, the market isn’t saturated. The same people who watch the Mechanicals’ Rep season will go check out the Artscape Spring Season and pop into Kalk Bay to see what’s playing there. Like most of my revelations it got replaced by another one that said the opposite in a louder voice. Having been at the opening of the Pink Couch’s Mafeking Road last week at the Intimate and of Solomon and Marion on Saturday at the Baxter I could use my keen powers of observation to tell that they were completely different people. Of course that’s a pretty small data set – statistically insignificant is the term – but it supports the slice analogy, and a good analogy is totally awesome.

Now there are two ways to increase the size of your slice: Take someone else’s or make the pie bigger.

So because stealing is frowned upon in our society unless you have a official title it stands to reason that we need to make the pie bigger to make our slice big enough to fill our stomachs for the month. That’s one of the goals of the Pink Couch – get the next generation watching theatre. Pretty sweet goal. But it should also be one of the goals of the big companies. Right now Solomon and Marion is R130 for students. That’s pretty steep for students. But it’s also a fair price. And is Solomon and Marion really aimed at the next generation anyway?

The big theatres have the big slices of the pie, fair enough. They’ve been around for ages, they build and maintain audience bases, they provide secure employment in an industry where most people don’t know what they’ll be doing in 4 months, they have programmes promoting and supporting new work. But maybe that first revelation I had wasn’t so crazy after all. What if the pie can be shared? What if there was pin board up at the Baxter or the Artscape or the Fugard that listed productions at other venues? By small, independent companies? The more theatre people see, the more they’ll want to see and the pie will miraculously get bigger.

The market isn’t saturated. We can afford to say that there’s other theatre out there. Let the big theatres have their big slice and share it too, and let the independents work on making the pie bigger. After all the tattooed hipster of today is the tattooed ballie of tomorrow and we need to get him into the auditorium now if he’s going to be shelling out R180 for a ticket tomorrow.

Advertisements

About Jon Keevy

Jon Keevy is a writer of stories and plays and also runs Alexander Bar's Upstairs Theatre.
This entry was posted in Marketing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Cannibal’s Pie: Theatre Competition

  1. sanjinmuftic says:

    I still say that taking soapies off of TV would be the best way to increase the pie.
    But i know, we don’t all have the power to do that.

  2. jonkeevy says:

    I think it’d be the best way to start a revolution.

  3. brendon says:

    Although it’s not the main thrust of your post……what you say about R130 being a fair price is true, but also scary. The irony is that students with good financial support might be the few who can actually pay that, it’s the rest slogging their way post college who will think twice. Okay, I’m sure this can be disputed, but regardless, and with things going the way they are economically, it’s going to be more and more difficult to ask a fair ticket price. And then there’s also the challenge of changing mindsets – most wouldn’t blink to pay that for a couple of pizzas…. or a well known foreign artist.

    • jonkeevy says:

      Exactly. There is something unique about theatre’s dilemma though, and that is that the interested audience is absent. In recent conversations I’ve had it’s clear that big theatres aren’t even trying to capture the under 30 market, they have given up. And yet if we do not build this next generation of audience will run dry eventually. A problem live music doesn’t seem to face. Not that anyone seems to be ‘facing’ it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s