You can’t come to my reading? I’ll bring my reading to you.

I got in a great convo with a theater lover/great business guy the other day about the pros and cons of taping theatrical performances.

We spent most of our time talking about delivering finished Broadway productions to cinemas around the country like The Met and The National Theatre’s programs.

But then we got into other applications.

One of the questions that I get the most from Producers/Writers/Actors is . . . how can I get a Producer to come to my reading?

Well, what if . . . what if . . . we streamed readings online?

One of the biggest reasons I don’t go to readings is that they take too much time out of the workday, especially when you factor in getting to/from.

But if the readings were streamed, I could get a taste of the material, without leaving my desk.

Usually I’m not an advocate of trying to use a 2D taped version of a show to sell a 3D live version of a show.  But, since the elements of a reading usually don’t sell a show well anyway (fluroescent lights, rehearsal rooms, music stands, etc.), we might not lose that much in the presentation.  And since we might get so many more “attendees”, we might end up with a net positive.  Lose a little, gain a lot.

A streamed reading could also be a great way to generate investor interest from around the country, rather than just relying on the investors who are within a 45 mile radius of Manhattan.

Those are the pluses . . .

The downside?  More Producers could stay home.  Watching a reading by yourself is not like being in an audience surrounded by other people laughing, applauding, etc.

Honestly, I’m not sure about this approach. And we’d have to get some union assistance in allowing it.

But you know me, I’m all about giving it a shot.

Because unless we continue to try new ways to market our material at all stages of its development, our market will will eventually shrivel up to nothing.

What do you think?  Would you like to see a reading online?

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Netflix for theater. It’s here.

Ok. It’s not here here.  It’s over there here.  Like in the UK.

The Brits beat us to the screen this week when www.DigitalTheatre.com went online with a few titles of taped theatrical productions that can be viewed in the privacy of your own home.

DigitalTheatre’s plan is to create a “library of diverse and acclaimed productions from some of the finest theatre talent around.”

They’ve got a production of Far From The Madding Crowd up right now available for 8.99 GBP (or about $15 bucks) and are promising more in the future.

Here are a couple of statements from the contributing theatres:

We’re always looking for ways to bring our work to the largest possible number of people. And the potential of digital technology to connect with a worldwide audience is genuinely exciting.

– Dominic Cooke, Royal Court

There needs to be a revolutionising of the capture of live theatre, and we are enjoying the pursuit of that ambition with Digital Theatre.

– Michael Boyd, Royal Shakespeare Company.

These guys have got it right.  A video revolution is coming.  It has to be.  Our attendance is waning.  A new audience isn’t being born.  It’s getting harder to pull people away from screens and get them into a theater.

So perhaps we use what has been our greatest fear (those screens) and turn it into an asset.

PBS has done it in the past. And seeing Into The Woods and Sweeney on TV certainly didn’t deter me from seeing those shows live when they came back to Broadway.

The Met has been successful in putting operas in movie theaters around the country.  My 80-year-old Dad loves them, and now he wants to come to NYC to see an opera more than ever.

– Legally Blonde didn’t lose all of its business here in NYC after a couple of plays on MTV.  And the tour is doing quite well . . . hmmmm.

– The Rent final performance DVD was pretty dang cool (I bought it), and even better than the movie in my opinion.

Of all of the options out there now, I think the Rent model is what could work the best.  Take a show that is closing, memorialize it, market it and use it to get people excited about another show live.

It’s like distributing a DVD after the movie has left the theaters.

The unions would have to play ball to make this financially feasible, but if the show is closing, shouldn’t they be more inclined to do it?  If all of the employees who worked on the show while it was being taped got a piece of future sales?  It’s found money for the employees (and the union benefit funds), and since the show would be closing, there shouldn’t be any fear that the Producers would be benefiting from the taped production as a promotional tool for Broadway (there is a question about using it to promote sub rights and tours, but certainly a profit participation for the union employees could make up for it).

The Digital Theatre folks are on to something.  And we better get on it as well, and stop guarding what we do like it’s the Queen.

Because this could be one of the few ways we have left to get what we do out to the masses.

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