by guest blogger cgeye
Tonight I was going to get to the topic "The National Theatre Conservatory is receiving end-of-life counseling, and woe to all of us", but I must vent:
Goddammit, I'm tired of cutting off any conviviality, any after-show visiting that strengthens community ties, to start planning how and where I'll walk, in order to get home.
I know we strive toward a poor-enough theatre, where we don't ask for more than what we need, and that real estate is a snare, but there are so many times where I hesitate about attending a play at night because of where I must walk through, how I must get there, how late I have to be outside, how late I'll get home. Where that real estate is, matters. That process of gentrification of which theatres are often part carries with it a tentative promise: We'll bring money to your stores and cafes, if you'll let us and our customers pass unharmed. Sometimes that promise is generously kept, on both sides. Other times it's a bubble as big as the moments before and after showtime, for a distance of a block or two. It's up to each patron to judge whether that bubble is enough.
And it doesn't matter whether does or does not have a car. Regardless, at night there's an armor I have to put on either to make the trip through the theatre's neighborhood, or back to mine. I won't generalize and say that most women have to put it on, but I bet more than a few women who make lives in the theatre get a bit tired asking the people around them to walk them to their cars, give them a short ride to the bus, ask for a big favor should the buses stop running, wait for them as they get inside their homes. Multiply that by the potential number of patrons for whom night transportation isn't a guaranteed thing, and you have a potential audience that considers the safer plan to watch a movie instead.
This is a long-winded way of asking that when we put that optimal script and cast together to reach out to a working-class audience, that we consider how that audience gets there, and how and when they'll get home. At the very least, figure out which buses stop near your theatre, how late those buses run, and how safe it is, to wait for one -- just one more overlay on the Google or Mapquest links, but an important one.