Word of Mouth

What are the points of information that influence you to see a show? How do we expand word of mouth? Let’s find out!

How do we Choose

What motivates you to see a show? This is not a rhetorical question. In a sense, we in Los Angeles, the theatre going public, are asked to make that choice on a weekly basis. The quandary that arises, is that there are so many choices in which play to see.

A good play is something we all relish and seek. So, the question becomes, how do we decide which show to see?

We can choose shows by familiarity, a play we know, or, maybe because we know someone in the show. Is it because we are fans of the playwright? Subject matter? For those a bit more adventurous maybe it’s a genre; musical, classic, comedy. But the one factor that seems to influence all of us, is word of mouth. Recommendations from those we trust.

Now there are a couple of issue with relying on word of mouth. First, a show has to be pretty heavily on our minds to make it a subject of casual conversation. The second, is that when we recommend a show we are putting our reputation on the line.

Some would say this is where critics and reviewers come into play. By the way, those are two different roles. Newspapers used to give us both, but there doesn’t seem to be much room for that in today’s culture.

What Influences Me

While we do get reviews from some qualified critics, Los Angeles Times and Stage Raw being the most notable publishers. What we now have is a multitude of reviewers that call themselves critics, mostly bloggers that give us a rough sketch of a play, and then a judgement about whether they liked the play. The observations may be valid, but by what criteria are they suggesting that we should see a show or conversely why we shouldn’t see a show.

If I read something on Stage Raw, I know I will get an analysis of a show with the gravitas of an educated critic. For many of the others, I’m relying on the taste of the writer, which is an entirely different thing.

Now if you are an undying fan of theatre, none of this really matters, you’re looking to sample everything and you’re willing to take the misses along with the hits. What if you’re looking to stack the deck, be relatively assured you’re going to be entertained, fulfilled? Then you will want to rely on criticism and word of mouth.

Here’s where we come in. We’ve created a survey, yes, there is something you are being asked to do, in which we hope to qualify and quantify the reasons that you like or recommend shows. Once we have collected this data, we are going to engage audience members to see shows, and rate them on the criteria that you will help establish. In turn we will weekly publish the results along with available links to qualified critics.

We’re going to call this the:


Word of Mouth


The very best thing we can do to assure that theatre thrives, is by promoting it. And the best promotion is word of mouth. So, help us out, help theatre out. Complete the survey, let’s establish a baseline of popular recommendation and make those audiences grow.

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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