BACKSTAGE: A Curtain Raiser for LA

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[BACKSTAGE is a series of posts focusing on the ‘Inside Baseball’ of the theater. Here’s the ‘curtain raiser’ speech I long to hear in every theater in Los Angeles.]

Good evening!

Hi, I’m the artistic director. Thank you  all  for making it out tonight. 

Your presence makes what we do possible. Without you — it’s just a rehearsal. You, the audience, make theater possible. And not just the theater but the community. We know what a schlep it can be to make it out at 8 p.m. in Los Angeles — so thank you. Thanks for choosing theater. Thanks for choosing to sit in a room of strangers for 90 minutes without checking your phones or worrying about work or the emergency exits (which by the way are there and there). With everything going on in the world, the act of coming together with people you don’t know to tackle the essential questions of what it means to be human  that’s a precious and essential commodity.

We’re honored and humbled that you’re here. We take that gift of presence very seriously.

So here’s the challenging part — your presence isn’t enough.

With you . . .  here . . .  in a seat — we’ve only done half our job. I’m not talking about rehearsal or everything that goes into making theater. I’m talking about support.

Even with every seat in the theater full — like it is tonight — we’re only halfway there. The cost of a ticket doesn’t cover the cost of theater.

I won’t bore you with all the economic realities of the American theater so I’ll boil it down to this: for nonprofit theater, which aside from Broadway, is most of the theater in America — for every seat we sell, for every ticket sold — we need to match that with a donation or other support for the same amount.  If you want the nitty gritty details and all the exact numbers — check your program or ask one of the ushers. They’ll link you to TCG’s theater facts which is a national survey of the health of theaters in America.

Big picture — look around.  For every person in this audience, we need another person to either buy a ticket or make a donation — or both.

So thank you for coming. Really it means the  world  to us  but if you care about what we do, if you care about the theater: it’s not enough.

We need your help, each and every one of you here tonight.

We need  you  to help us make up that other 50 percent.

The easiest way? If you appreciate our work, after the show, write us a check for the amount of your ticket price — it’s tax deductible. And if the gods of capitalism have been good to you, and you can afford to, make that check for more. Take care of your neighbor, take care of your city, take care of the art.

Now we know that for some of you — just the price of a ticket was a stretch. Thanks for valuing theater, we won’t let you down. You can help us by filling another seat. Tell a friend, tell a neighbor, tell the guy at Starbucks — “I saw this show that really affected me. You need to go.”

Thank you.

Enjoy the show . . .