When I stumbled across an article about a city having too much theater, my first reaction was probably along the lines of this
Which is probably why I stayed on board to read the entire article… and by golly if it didn’t put forward a rational point. While I love theatre and want it to be everywhere there is a very practical problem with that. If the market has more goods than customers it is bound to fail. This is the case in Kansas city, that has many theatre companies and is now suffering from each company losing ticket sales.
The fact is, when there are too many shows to attend, not everyone can be attended. The market of who can buy tickets just is not large enough for all of the theatres that are opening up in the area. Companies no longer can sell season passes, because people don’t want to commit to seeing every show, and companies must fight to fill seats.
I personally like to think, “Every town could use another theatre venue or three!” but sometimes a healthy dose of reality kicks in and reminds me that not every town wants a theatre.
Let’s take my hometown in rural Massachusetts. Surrounding towns well within driving distance have theatres. There are a few theatres with larger seasons that people subscribe to and a handful of smaller ones that put on productions throughout the year. Many productions are put on through highschools and get a chance to perform in larger venues.
My hometown itself has no dedicated theatre, though the highschool and town hall have stages and one of the local churches has a theatre company in residence that performs in its sanctuary. None of these locations ever sell out for an event, and there are few events that happen. While I love the idea of having a dedicated theatre in my hometown, it would not have an audience. It would be a location with too much theatre.
So today I received a healthy reminder, even the things I love most need to come in moderation. Too much theatre can end up hurting the industry I love most.