I got an e-mail from a someone marketing their show recently, in which audience members and friends were asked to "come out and support" the show. "No, goddamnit!" I wanted to shout at the screen, "NO!"
So let me put it out there, Mission Paradox aphorism style:
Your show is not something to support.
People should not be asked to see your show as a favor to you.
Your show should be able to entice them on its merits.
The Studio Theatre in DC, which weathered last year's economic clusterfuck with a surplus has marketing materials with slogans like "We do the plays you want to see!" and "Sometimes it just feels good!" You're never going to see on it, "Come support us by seeing Radio Golf!" The tagline on their website says: "With nine Washington-area premiers, The Studio Theatre's 2009-2010 season is an eclectic mix with everything from high comedy to a meditation on family by one of the masters of twentieth-century playwriting."
There are plenty of ways that people can be asked to show their support-- Donating, telling friends about the show, volunteering, providing you with honest feedback. But what have we come to that we discuss seeing the show itself as a form of support? Isn't the show for the audience, and not the other way around? I see this "support us" language all the time. It drives me up a wall. And I can't imagine that it's effective marketing language either. And I think, quite frankly, that it unwittingly reflects real feelings of entitlement that artists feel. That people should come see their shows regardless because they're being put up. Well I say thee nay! if you're a close friend of mine, perhaps I need you to see a show (or at least see it early in its run) to help support it, but if I don't know you well, you should come see my show because you want to! And part of my job is to do a show that you might want to actually see without whoring myself!