Who said there are a limited # of theaters in Times Square?

The current Broadway theater crunch has got everyone thinking about what to do with the next set of shows coming down the pike. If Broadway was JFK airport, there would be at least 20-30 planes circling, waiting for the Air Traffic Controllers (aka the Theater Owners) to call them in for a landing.

But for a lot of people, especially the younger generation of Producers and Writers, waiting for “permission” to land your show isn’t going to cut it.

Generation T (for “Tomorrow”) has already started creating shows for alternative spaces (Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, Queen of the Night, Then She Fell, and yep, even I’ve got a new show for the spring that won’t need a theater owner’s blessing to open) . . . and I’d expect this trend to continue. Especially when there are unlimited venues in the heart of midtown just waiting for creative geniuses to fill them.

What exactly am I talking about?

Let’s back up for a second . . .

Somewhere in the annals of this blog I wrote an article about the unrealized potential of Broadway theaters. You see, the average show is around 2.5 hours long. Add in 1.5 hours of prep before hand, and ½ an hour of “out” time after, and the total use of the theater is 4.5 hours a day, or about 36 hours a week. Add a 4 hour rehearsal (maybe) and you’re up to 40 hours a week. A week has 168 hours. That means that shows use only approximately 21.43% of the week! And the rest of that week sits dark. And depressing.

What’s amazing about this stat is that this real estate that is sitting there unused 78.57% of the time is some of the most expensive real estate in the world! Crazy, right? I’d love to see some of this time get programmed with miscellaneous stuff. But that’s not what this blog is about.

This blog is about a similar amount of unrealized potential, and where I think the next immersive show is bound to take place. You see, the office that you might be working in right now is busy from 9 – 7. And shows start at about 8. And there are thousands and thousands of offices in the heart of midtown that are all dark right at the peak performance time for live entertainment.

I’m predicting that the next immersive theatrical production will be in a corporate office.  Or two. Or three.

Imagine a Mad Men like experience on Madison Avenue.  Or a show about sweat shops in the garment district.

The possibilities and the venues are endless.  And it will happen.  Because the Producers and Writers coming of age right now are part of the video game generation.  And they like to be “in” their shows. And they also don’t like to be told by their parents that they can’t “play.”



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  • Ooh I’d see a show in an office! I love site-specific found space experiences.

  • Donald I says:

    I spent 20 years working at colleges in NYC and it astounded me that there was a lot of really good performance space that was sitting unused all over NYC. Some of it wasn’t strictly “theatrical” space but it would have been terrific for workshops, readings, and shows requiring limited sets. All it requires as some imagination on the part of the school administrations and some “can do” attitude. Things have gotten a little better (NYU and Pace are using their space a little better) but there are hidden gems in academic institutions all over the city.

  • I’m all for unique theatrical experiences and creating alternate venues but the “168 hours in a week” comment is a little ridiculous as an argument for the underuse of spaces as I think drumming up an audience big enough to fill Broadway theater at 3am on a Monday, for example, on a regular basis is pretty unrealistic.

    And, keeping office buildings, especially those in the midtown area, running after hours could be a much more complicated and expensive proposition than this post is taking into consideration. Paying time and a half for the building staff’s OT hours can really drive up operating costs.

  • Rhonda Dodd says:

    We have all been doing this for years! See for example our one man show “A Christmas Carol at the Merchant’s House” where Summoners performs in the only extant inside and out Victorian home in New York City. Only Dickens’ words in a Victorian parlor for an intimate audience creates an unforgettable evening for everyone.

    Last year it snowed as the show was about to start and you could see it fluttering past the large front windows just as the text began. It was incredible!

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