Building An Audience: Conversation Starters
Conversation is Food For the Soul
Building an audience requires more than spectacular promotions or finding the right mix of plays for your season. In spite of the terror that the phrase “We need to talk” arouses in couples, people thrive on conversation, on the exchange of ideas, on communicating with each other. But where can communication start in a world that is increasingly fragmented, isolated by a pandemic, and just plain busy?
Building an audience by opening the communication highway.
Finding plays that make audience members talk about the productions they’ve just seen brings them back. How do you find a play that leaves your audience eager to not only talk to each other after a performance but eager to return for the next one? One of the big attractions for audiences is experiencing plays that
- make them ask questions,
- talk to each other at intermissions and at after-theatre coffees or drinks
- inspire their curiosity.
Conversation is an exercise of the mind; gossip is merely an exercise of the tongue
At Blue Moon Plays, we seek out those plays that are conversation starters, that make audiences think. So, what kinds of plays do that?
- Plays that tackle contemporary issued head-on
- Plays that raise more questions than answers
- Plays that tickle the imagination
- Plays that edify not by preaching but by telling compelling stories
- Plays that make us wonder “what-if?” or “Why?” or “How?”
- Plays that lend themselves to talkbacks about issues rather than craft
One of the most important questions that audiences might feel compelled to discuss after a performance is: What kind of society are we living in? What kind of world do we want to live in and how to get there.
To build an audience, most production companies include classic plays in their seasonal audiences. Why? Many classic plays raise questions that involve moral choices about the world we live in: The Hairy Ape by Eugene O’Neill; 12 Angry Men by Reginald Rose; Ruined by Lynn Nottage. And the list goes on.
But the question those plays raise needs to be raised again and again. And, as the pandemic waxes and wanes, old and new questions emerge about the world we live in. In a democratic society, those questions are asked and answered by the people. By finding plays that generate conversations, theatres can help both ask and stimulate answers.
Plays That Fill the Seats
Plays that challenge audiences can be comedies, farces, or dramas that imply something about race, religion, the aging of society, or spirituality. Arthur Miller was said to have overheard an audience member say “That New England territory was always a bitch.” At that moment, he knew he had a hit. Why? Because a salesman in the audience had connected with Willy Loman in a visceral way and was talking about it in a meaningful way. Miller had touched the hearts of mid-America and opened the doors to discussion.
Stay tuned for more of our conversations here about plays that make great conversation starters.