Basically, he explained to me that if he books a ticket for one night and then on that night he suddenly gets offered tickets to a Broadway or Off-Broadway show, he's going to go to that and he'll turn down the Indie show. Now, if he hasn't bought tickets online he hasn't lost any money if he changes his mind, but if he has he may have lost $15-20, and that show legally has to save his seat because you're not allowed to resell a ticket purchased online.
That brings up a very interesting point. Ken Davenport says that "there's always someone who wants to fly first class." So it makes sense that if somebody can get free tickets to this show, odds are they're going to turn down the Indie theatre show. Now most of the Indie companies would be upset and say that we're doing something very different from the commercial theatres and that just because the show costs more money doesn't mean it's better. I agree, but we can't ignore the fact that people respond to brands and we're still in the process of branding Indie Theatre.
So the question then becomes what do we do?
I think we should start experimenting with start times. Some companies are already doing it and it seems to be working. If we start our shows at 8:30pm, maybe we'd get some of those folks who didn't make it into the lottery at this show. You never know.
The truth of the matter is that the models that we have lived by for years and years aren't working as well anymore and we need to start rethinking things. That's why I started the Independent Producers Alliance, and that's why I continue to write this blog.
If we don't reflect on our work, things will never change. So the next time you make any decision regarding theatre, take a second to ask yourself why. You may find that the answer leads you to an idea as clever as this one.