As readers of this blog know, I have a very friendly relationship with Arena Stage. I've been a freelance employee of them twice as a blogger covering their convenings, I think David Dower is a hero and count him as a friend and everything they're doing with trying to create a home for American plays and playwrights is wonderful.
That being said, $95.00-$110 feels way too high for a ticket to a nonprofit production of anything. And that it's for a show in a 200 seat theater makes it even stranger. I've complained about this about New York theaters (including to Bernie Gerstein's rather dismissive face), and what's true for them is true for the Arena. I don't think Molly Smith needs to create a socialist utopia or anything like that, and I understand that there's only so many Major Problems In American Theatre one can reorient their institution to tackle, and tackling New Play Development is a great one to try to knock down. That being said, it saddens me that a theater positioning itself as uniquely American and speaking to as broad a swath of the populace as possible would create such a barrier to entry. I just hope over the coming seasons they can find a way to lower their prices.
Or to put it another way, how many of the residents of Boligee, Alabama (the "backwater town" in which Marcus Gardley's play is set) could afford to see this play?
UPDATE: Just to clarify and head off a few more comments at the pass... via hunting around their website, what i have found thus far is that the bottom ticket price is $95. That's a Tuesday night, sitting in the back row. $95.00. Top ticket price (Fri-Sat night) is $110. I am not sure if there are discount codes or not, but honestly, I think the question of discount codes is entirely irrelevant to the point I was trying to make, which has to do with barriers between potential audience members and an institution's show. Discount codes largely reward those already in the know. A $95-110 ticket price sends out a message about who is and who is not welcome at a theatre.