Yesterday, Factory Theatre sent out a press release stating that they are changing the way they do Opening Night:
Factory Theatre, with the unanimous support from this seasonâ€™s partners, is attempting to redefine what â€œopening nightâ€ means by considering what the artists want from it, and what the audience deserves from it, not just what tradition dictates it should be.
Beginning with The Art of Building a Bunker, we have decided to offer working members of the media complimentary tickets to a media night on October 21 (three performances after opening night), and for the length of the run as long as tickets are available.
We wish to support and celebrate the work of our theatre creators by giving general audiences the first chance to respond to our shows and to be at the forefront of the conversation. Members of the media are also a part of this conversation, but it is that larger conversation we are striving to facilitate.
Traditionally, Opening Night involves inviting media, who are given tickets to the show, and then write reviews for their publications. Now, it seems they have decided that that’s not what opening night is for. They now will have a media night that takes place three nights from the Opening at which the media will be able to attend and write their reviews.
So, this is fine I guess. They can choose how they want their Opening Night to go, right?
But I have to wonder what problem this change is addressing.Â What is prompting the need to make this change? Why delay the publication of reviews of your shows by even a couple of days? Personally, with a few exceptions, I use reviews to gage what shows I might want to see. I’m having difficulty figuring out what the theatre gains from this.
When a movie studio knows they have a stinker on their hands, they will often either delay their media screening or not have one at all. My skeptical brain remembers this when I think of a theatre delaying their media night. Now, I don’t think that Factory thinks their season is made up of stinkers. They wouldn’t go through the trouble of putting a season full of bad shows onto their stage. I just don’t know what problem this change solves for them. What was the problem that mixing their audience with theatre reviewers caused on Opening Night?
Why change something just for the sake of changing it?