Theater things that don’t make sense: Vol. 8
I was recently at a big ol’ touring house outside of NYC. You know, one of those theaters in major metro areas all over the country that presents big national tours like Billy Elliot and Mary Poppins as well as concerts, lectures, local dance recitals and more.
I was talking to the TD of this theater, and he was telling me about his house plot. You know, the bank of lighting instruments owned by the theater that can be used for small shows, or used to augment big shows, etc. (which allows touring shows to travel with less, saving them money in rentals and trucking and load-in time). A house plot is one of the reasons that Altar Boyz was able to tour all over the country.
So I started thinking . . .
Why don’t Broadway houses have house plots?
If there were a string of basic instruments in each house, we could save time, money, and I’d bet a lot of those dark weeks that some theaters face could be filled by smaller shows or special events that wouldn’t normally be able to get their shows up without this savings . . . which would provide more jobs for everyone. (The owners of New World Stages recently added a house plot to one of their small theaters, and it’s been booked more often because of it).
The theater owners could even charge a few more bucks for use of the package, paying for (and profiting from) their initial purchase of the equipment.
It’s my understanding that the current stagehand contract prevents leaving elements from one show to be used for another show without payment (since the guys are losing hours of work). While that argument seems to be another ‘theater thing that doesn’t make sense,’ I would think that a compromise could be had, since this “house plot” idea is in use all over the country, and since the existence of the plot could generate more gigs for the stagehands in the future.
With our costs escalating just about everywhere, we’ve got to look at ways to become more efficient . . . which means looking at things in ways we’ve never looked at them before.