Raising Theatre

Holding handsWhen a new baby is born, everybody gushes and compliments and speaks of the promise of youth. In most cases for the next 25-30 years, the only people that usually continue with that optimistic outlook is the parents, and they more out of hope then knowledge. So too can be said for a theatre movement.

By virtue of all that went before it, the notion of intimate theatre as now thrives in Los Angeles was born out of the frustration and lack of opportunity for talented participants going back to the birth of the film industry here in LA. But in the 1980’s, as the art form was beginning to take hold, Actors’ Equity Association (AEA), the union of professional actors and stage managers, tried to dry up the opportunity. And in a very real sense, that was the moment that gave a real breath of life for LA Theatre.

Theatre makers, in their efforts to organize all the disparate individuals, became a group of concerned activists, not just of want-a-be actors, but dedicated artists, and they took action. Companies began to form, institutions dedicated to the proposition that world-class theatre could and would be made on stage that in some cases was barely bigger than a small living room. The model was no longer to recreate what others had done, nor hope that someone who could get you a job would see the show, the goal was now to create unique and assertive works that stood on their own.

As children grow, and they demonstrate some skills, they have a built in fan club, family. With great pride, grandpa talks about what his grand children are doing, siblings and cousins and friends attend extracurricular activities. They each express pride and encourage others to see the greatness that is a twinkle in the family eye.

Theatre, especially LA theatre, doesn’t have that built in fan club. We have the participants and hopefully their entourage, but in many cases, aside from others in theatre, the participants’ family and friends are a long way off. So too is the built-in Fan Club. The mechanism for building popularity, for getting word of mouth advertising to hit a critical mass is short-stopped.

How does that initial crucial opportunity to spread the word on a show begin? What needs to happen so that a show can achieve, escape velocity, become part of the zeit geist? Marketing. Easily accessible information about what is going on. Playbill in New York serves that purpose. In every issue, you see what is playing on Broadway. In Los Angeles, we have FootLights. Yes this is shameless self promotion, but promoting theatre is why we began, and why we continue to find innovative ways to get the message out.

You read our magazine and see other productions while waiting for your show to start. But, do you know you can do the same at home, use Footlights.click to help find a show to see? You’ll discover a bounty of tools by visiting our website. Let’s give you a few ideas.

At the very top of the page, there’s a search box . Going to Long Beach? Put that in, and you’ll see what’s playing in Long Beach. Want to know where a particular show is playing? Enter the title. Want to know what’s playing at a particular theatre? Enter the venue.

But there’s more. Just below the block of images, which all link to articles or editorials about theatre, there are two black boxes: Opening Soon and Now Playing. Click on that and you get a sample list of the most immediate shows. And if you click on the more below that, you see a complete listing of shows that are ordered by date, so you can plan your schedules accordingly.

Want more? Click on any title or image of a show on those lists, or on the scrolling covers further down the page, and you are taken to the show page itself. Everything you may want to know, Where it’s at, whens it playing, what the show’s about, links to their ticketing or further information, and a map to the show making it easier to get there.

And finally, if you’re looking at a show, which uses our programs, you can see the program by clicking on the cover image. All of this is available at your desk, on your tablet, or on your smart phone.

A comprehensive listing of shows throughout the area along with related stories about the shows, and the people that create them. Yes in effect, it’s an invitation to join the fan club of Theatre. There’s social media, there’s editorials, there’s tons to discover and whet your appetite, and all you have to do is look.

Yes, the gems of the theatre world, new exciting vibrant theatre is available to you just for the looking. Join us in spreading the word. Know of a show that’s not listed? Let us know we’ll get the information up. Have an opinion you want to share? We publish letters to the editor. Have an insight to want to espouse on? Send it to us, it may just make the pages.

You as an audience are only asked to give your attention to a production, willingly suspend your disbeliefs, and when it’s over, share your experience with others. That’s what we do with our children, and that’s what we should do with theatre, It will pay off for our culture, just as do our children.

About Peter Finlayson

Peter Finlayson is the Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-chief of FootLights magazine and footlight.click. While working on a prelaw program at the University of Michigan, he happily got involved with the theatre program. Much to his mother’s chagrin, law school never happened, but in a career spanning more than 4 decades, Peter has performed, directed or designed more than 150 productions. In his spare time, he is working on a new play. You can follow him on Twitter @Thtrdog .

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