Blog Archives

To answer a question received by e-mail…

…yes, I change the background pattern on the blog every day (or two) and try my hardest never to repeat a pattern.

Paisley

I spend a lot of time searching for new patters that will make the blog stand out. Following users comments I stopped using moving images a while ago since they

detract from the posts. I do, however look for color that makes the pages stand out and patterns that make me relatively happy (like the “Paisley” I have up today.)

If you have a pattern you haven’t seen here that you’d like me to use, click on the mailbox and attach it to the e-mail.

Thanks, Bill.

Some thoughts on the CATF and Theatre in general..

This has been an interesting summer season. Elly and I have seen all the CATF plays, both of the staged readings (presented at Full Circle), had Breakfast with Ed, attended two lectures, and, in general, have done about as much participation in the Festival as an attendee is allowed. I am left with a couple of thoughts.

1. The Age of the Audience. You can’t help but notice that the great majority of audience members at the CATF are “grayhairs.” This, of course, includes me, a 63-year old. While there are some student attendees and some younger associates of mine who ushered in order to see plays, even the ushers were mostly older folks.

There are two reasons for the audience’s age. The first is the cost of tickets. For working or retired adults, this cost isn’t too bad (compare it with theatre costs in D.C. or – shudder – NYC). For students and kids who work locally for $8.00 an hour (or less), this is not an affordable entertainment… certainly not when compared with films.

The second is marketing. The focus on CATF’s marketing seems to be toward its existing market… mail, e-mail, off-season promotional events… and that market gets older every year. The case is not being made to younger audiences on why they should be saving their pennies for tickets next year. Development of a younger audience requires a serious focus on both youth economics and youth subject matter considerations. While we often see plays by younger writers, we rarely see plays on “younger subjects” (a play like “1001” two seasons ago was the kind of play that had a really young message, relating to the mideast crisis effecting younger lives.)

Don’t get me wrong, the plays and subject matter this year were very fulfilling to me as an audience member. But I will state again that I am 63 and am at the “looking back” point of living. While the Festival satisfies this need, it limits its focus on younger issues.

2. The relationship with Shepherdstown. Elly and I often say that the CATF was one of the reasons we moved to Shepherdstown. It’s true. Part of that is our previous lives as New Yorkers or a Provincetonians… we always like living in communities that support the arts that we went to college for and committed large parts of our working lives to.

This year, however, I noticed much less tightness in the Town/Festival relationship. No big signs in the center of town showing each day’s performances, for instance. Now I realize that these are usually on Shepherd U. property, but downtown is downtown… it is the two blocks that tourists and other visitors always come to, to eat or shop or just walk up and down the street looking at our aging architecture.

And take the presentation of the staged readings at Full Circle Theater, a new, but very active Community Theatre now in its third year. While mentioning the Full Circle location, address and phone number in the program for the CATF productions, there was no press release support, no advertising, no posters… no mention of either the readings or location on the regular web site of CATF OR Full Circle Theater. I took it upon myself to send announcements to the Visitor’s Center and other local agencies, but I can’t help think how much better this would have been if promoted in advance by the producing organization… both as a way of getting MORE community involvement and as a way of attracting a younger audience for whom FREE is a magic word.

I don’t know what the attendance stats are for this season, but given the general economy, I won’t be surprised if there was limited growth over previous seasons. This, of course, is outside the control of both the producing organization and Shepherdstown itself. But it is clearly a time for focus and changes in approach.