Today, as I looked through headlines about whats going on in the theatre world I saw one that caught my attention, “Why theatre should be a risky business”. This immediately caught my attention as I have been learning a lot more about what the world of theatre I will soon be entering is like. What was encouraging is, like I believe it should be, many theatres are learning that they need to take risks to stay open. While this may mean they fail more, it also means that they succeed in ways that theatres that are not taking risks will never be able to.
The fact is, unless a theatre is willing to take risks it will be unlikely it will bring in new audiences. That is not saying that taking risks will also keep the old audience… that is why it is called a risk. It is up to theatres to calculate these risks so they can keep their audiences while also opening the field for a new audience to come in and watch their shows. So taking risks will, if done well, hopefully will invite a more diverse audience to the theatre.
The worry that people will lose their current audiences is one that I find a bit unrealistic. Sure, a few people here and there will not be satisfied and will leave, but I believe most people are fine with not liking every performance they see. I was a subscriber to a local theatre back home when I was in highschool and I did not like every show they did, but I still went back to see the next one because I trusted that they were doing their best to put forward good performances. They took risks, produced new works, and as a result they are still getting many new patrons each year.
Where taking risks can fall flat is when a failure is ot noted. For the theatre back home, they do this by displaying letters from dissatisfied customers with responses of what they hoped to be doing with the piece. They then invite people to give more feedback so they can make better informed risks in the future. They want to keep doing new work and inviting new audiences while letting the old audience know they are still valued.
So the short of it is that risks are a good thing, and more theatres need to be taking them. Lets open up to new audiences everyday and keep this art form fresh.