Art and being in the Black

Julie and I got to talking this weekend about theater companies, budgets, and audience mindsets. We came up with a few sort of obvious statements.



  • Some Audiences Can’t Enjoy Theater Without Spectacle

    I think this relates to the Holy Sh*t! article that went around last week. It starts out with a fairly given idea. If your theater is awesome, people will generally go see it. Then it says, “You know what’s awesome? Theater that has a Holy Sh*t! moment like some sort of Hollywood Blockbuster.” So obviously if all our theater was full of crazy Hollywood Blockbuster moments we’d have an audience. Which I think we can all agree is true. If theater was just the movies we would have movie audiences! Fantastic insight.

    But there is an element of truth there. There are audiences who can’t enjoy a play without the kitchen sink set. And period costumes. And a string quartet playing original music. And suddenly the cost of your production is around that of a Hollywood Blockbuster.

    Which leads me to number two.

  • Should theater attempt to accommodate everyone?

    I know this is heresay. Every single theater mission statement is about getting new people in the door. About forcing people who currently hate theater to love theater. If necessary by gunpoint. But it’s worth considering. Do we really want everyone?

    I saw a hilarious comedy this summer that I really enjoyed. Loved it. It had a completely realistic set that was simple, but cost some money. The thing was, it didn’t need the set at all. The characters didn’t interact with it in any meaningful way. It gave them an excuse to have tiny bits of stage business, and that’s it. But that set was there simply because of those audience members who can’t handle plays without realistic sets. And that stinks because the company in question could use the money to keep the lights on, and pay their actors, and generally keep making theater.

    Which makes me wonder – is it perhaps time to jettison parts of the audience?

  • Could theater survive if the audience was leaner?


    p>Would we have budget problems if we didn’t accommodate the audience that requires realism? Thanks to Julie, LGT has always been in the black. We sometimes lose money, but that just means leaner budgets for the next show. One thing we struggle with is how “professional” our productions should look. And by “professional” we mean accommodating of audience members with little to no imagination. Almost all of our shows bring in the same audience numbers. When we try to expand we often end up failing spectacularly. The question we often have to ask, is if we spent $1000 on our set rather than $200-400 would we see additional audience? Past experience has told us that we will. But that audience is usually in the 20-50 person range. It doesn’t equal $600-800 in extra ticket sales. Julie always makes us justify budgets in ticket sales.

    Will posters bring in 4 additional people?

    If it can be justified we do it.

  • You have to decide if they’re worth it. For us, it’s much more useful to keep making inexpensive theater that our audience enjoys as we hone our skills and develop our voice. Going bankrupt doesn’t serve our audience or our artistic development.

    What do you think?

    Interest Rates

    Just a quick question. I know there’s an adage that you don’t raise interest rates in a recession. Of course I don’t know of any recession in the past where interest rates were essentially zero.

    My theory is that raising interest rates would cause both business and consumers to buy so that they could lock in today’s rates. I think the main reason we’re not recovering is that there’s no reason for businesses or consumers to “buy now”. If the fed started raising rates people would want to re-fi. They’d want to buy a new car. Any large purchase they’d been putting off they’d potentially make to avoid having to spend more in the future. Obviously you can’t raise rates forever, but we know an economy can run just fine with interest rates in the middle single digits so why not try?

    What’s the flaw in my logic?

    Evil Java Interview Question

    class Fruit {
        public Fruit() {
        protected void init() {
    class Orange extends Fruit {
        private String color = null;
        public Orange() {
        protected void init() {
            color = "Orange";

    If I create a new instance of Orange what is the variable ‘color’ set to? The answer is null.


    So yesterday we were going to swim lessons and I noticed 5 kids walking along the 71 access road. I pointed them out to Julie as “Schools back in session”. Then I realized. Those kids were walking from the Govalle bus back to our neighborhood. Which meant that they had to walk 1/4 mile from Travis High to the 7-11 at Oltorf and Parker. Take the bus down Parker to Parker and 71, then walk 1/2 mile back into our neighborhood.

    Then this morning I noticed a woman and her child waiting at the bus stop by Ware Rd. And a guy walking home from work along Burleson from Oltorf.

    So while the bus might not have had high ridership, it definitely reached places that other buses don’t and the loss of service is affecting people in very obvious ways.

    The National as done by Stella

    This would be a riff on Afraid of Everyone by The National if that’s not obvious:

    Oh… I’m afraid of everyone

    in the whole wide world

    But I love them

    Even though I’m afraid of them.

    Don’t worry if you can’t make the lyrics match up. It’s not going to happen.

    She’s been driving us a bit crazy singing it over and over. Not to mention that it’s permanently wedged in my head. I’m listening to it now. If you can’t beat them…

    Sunstroke 5k #12 – 2010

    Fantastic weather tonight. A wonderfully cool 79 degrees with a breeze pretty much the entire length of the race. I ended up running behind a kid who looked like me at 10 years old for about the first mile. Like chasing my youth. Except that he was far faster than I ever was, which was funny because he seemed about equally coordinated with limbs flying every which way as he ran.

    Very happy with this race time. Wish I’d pushed myself just a tiny bit more since I only needed to shave off about 20 more seconds to be under 8 minutes. All in all a fantastic race and end to the season.

    Race Time Min/Mile
    2 26:45 8:34
    6 26:44 8:34
    10 26:17 8:21
    12 25:16 8:06

    SHARED: 1959 Modernized Mid-Century with Atrium in Towson â

    Shared by Tim

    I want a pond in my house.

    This 1959 flat-roof mid-century sits on a wooded acre lot. Photos courtesy of agent Heidi Krauss.

    Walls of glass to view wooded acre lot. Check. Flat-roof. Check. Atrium to bring nature in. Check. Updated modern kitchen that actually works with the mid-century style of the house. Check. Three-car garage for your vintage rides? Check. Should I go on?  If you are looking for these attributes in a modern house, take a look at this 4 bedroom/3 bath mid-century in Towson, MD.

    SHARED: Latest exoneration out of Houston based on false eyewitness ID

    Shared by Tim

    If you’re not reading “Grits For Breakfast” you should be. The state of Prisons in this nation is appalling. I’m still just blown away by this story. A guy in a courthouse for unrelated reasons is accused of rape and serves 19 years? Insane!

    Allen Porter walked free an innocent man in Houston yesterday after DNA and fingerprint evidence convinced Harris County DA Pat Lykos to reopen the case after 19 years. Allan Turner at the Houston Chronicle described the emotional scene in court:

    Dabbing at her teary eyes, state District Judge Joan Campbell said Thursday she will recommend that authorities free a Houston man who has served 19 years — almost half his life – in prison for a sexual assault he did not commit.

    As members of his family jumped from their seats in tearful ecstasy at the judge’s decision, the prisoner, Allen Wayne Porter, 39, first shed tears, then smiled broadly.

    Campbell advised lawyers to return to her court today to explore ways Porter can be released on bond pending a final decision in the case by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

    “Good news!” said Porter’s court-appointed lawyer, Casey Garrett, at the end of the day-long hearing. “I am confident the CCA will agree with Judge Campbell. … It is really hard to wrap your mind around the fact that someone spent 20 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.”

    This morning Campbell set Porter’s bond at $30,000. His lawyer said Porter could be released later today.

    If the court accepts her recommendation, it will order a new trial. Bob Loper, the special prosecutor, said today that he would move to dismiss the case, so he would not be retried.

    According to the Chronicle, “Porter was arrested at the courthouse while attending [his nephew’s] trial with other family members after one of the rape victims identified him as her attacker.” Can you imagine! I wish Mr. Porter luck: Congrats to him and to everybody involved on this belated victory.