Friday, January 23, 2004

Theater Project for everyone

Published in the Portland Phoenix

Theaters across the state say they want to boost audience numbers, to have attendees reflect Maine’s diversity — ethnically, socially, economically. They say they want anyone to be able to see any show. Now somebody means it.

The Theater Project, in Brunswick, has introduced pay-what-you-can ticketing, for all shows, all the time.

Will more people in the seats build a more vibrant, supportive community than a few folks with high-priced tickets? It’s a good bet: "Ticket receipts never support a theater," says Al Miller, the theater’s artistic director. "We want people to come see our shows, and we don’t want them to stay away because they can’t afford the tickets."

We can hope they’ll also score more grants for being an inclusive theater environment, allowing families, young adults, and working people of all ages to see quality theater without breaking the budget.

Sure, other companies have pay-what-you-can nights, but it’s a separate-but-not-equal feeling, and it’s on their schedule, not yours.

At the Theater Project, even their requested amounts are low: ranging from $6 to $15. But there’s no shame, and no problem, if you can’t afford it. Just pay less.

Start now, at the Winter Cabaret, from January 23 to February 8. Pay what you can. Then add a penny — literally — to that amount, to help support a theater that says it wants everyone to attend, and means it. Call (207) 729-8584 for reservations.