Talk Back, Move Forward

Photo by The House Theatre of Chicago — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

As posted in KadmusArts’ daily news feature, Broadway has discovered the benefits of letting the audience speak.

Broadway is not known for innovation either on stage or in audience development. Hollywood gets shaken up at least once a generation from a new outlier style of producing (a position currently held by the Weinstein brothers — but for how long?). Broadway, unfortunately, too often suffers from the same small cast of producers who hire the same marketing firms who pitch the same flavor of campaigns to the same kind of audience.

In the last two years, the big innovation in Broadway marketing has been — wait for it — social networking! We can post videos on our site! We can create Twitter posts! We can even have a Facebook page for fans of the show! Okay, but how do you expand the onstage experience to an ongoing relationship?

As in all arts, the marketing focus has to be on how we deepen the connection to current audiences and reach new audiences. On Broadway, the newest trend is the talk-back session.

For years, giving the audience the opportunity to provide feedback has been the staple of play development programs. The sessions inform the playwright and give the audience a genuine voice in the creation of new art.

In the not-for-profit world, theatres have been bringing the creators onstage after a show to answer questions from subscribers as a bonus benefit to supporting the theatre. These sessions work incredibly well because they give the creative team a chance to meet the community, and they give the community a chance to deepen their understanding of the choices made onstage.

As the New York Times notes, the talk back is playing on Broadway to help increase ticket sales and “enhance the audience’s experience.” For David Mamet’s Oleanna, the talk-backs expand the characters’ drama of sexual harassment to let the audience choose sides. Legal scholars, critics, lawyers, even a former NYC mayor, lead the audience through their own experiences and the law.

Everyone has shared an event. Everyone has an opinion. And everyone is in the room. This is a social network at its best.

- Bill Reichblum

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One Response to “Talk Back, Move Forward”

  1. Twitter Trackbacks for KadmusArts - where culture speaks » Blog Archive » Talk Back, Move Forward [kadmusarts.com] on Topsy.com
    October 13th, 2009 08:08
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    [...] KadmusArts - where culture speaks » Blog Archive » Talk Back, Move Forward kadmusarts.com/blog/?p=950 – view page – cached As posted in KadmusArts’ daily news feature, Broadway has discovered the benefits of letting the audience speak. — From the page [...]

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