Converting "Normal" People Into Theatre-Goers

Posted on Jun 2nd, 2010 by Shuchi in Theatre Trivia

stage Most people I know, when given a choice between watching a film or watching a play, will choose the film. I have tried getting friends to "convert", and have had to endure fidgets during the performance and accusing looks thereafter.

Wiser today, I have learnt a few gentle ways to break in others into the theatre experience. Sharing a few tips with you, I hope they come in useful if you too struggle to find company for play-watching as I do.

  1. If your friend cares for star power, pick out a play with well-known actors in it. It is much easier to convince a theatre newbie to watch Shabana Azmi’s version of Broken Images than Arundhati Raja’s.

  2. Make sure you are aware of the contents of the play in advance and can rely on it to be to your friend’s taste.

    I once made the mistake of persuading a friend who hates "abstract stuff" to watch Abhishek Majumdar‘s Lucknow โ€˜76. It was a decent enough show I thought, but by the time the cast began spouting Bengali my friend was tearing his hair out. He vowed never to touch another play with a barge pole again.  

    First impressions can be a deal-breakers. Now if only I had taken him to an Evam show the story might ended differently.

  3. Choose a venue like the Kyra Theatre which combines dining with play-watching. Some people don’t want to go to the theatre as the whole thing of doors-shut-no-conversation is too overpowering to them. One can easily walk out of a movie one does not like, but not so comfortably quit a play.

    A venue like Kyra does not overwhelm in the same way as, say, Ranga Shankara. Purist may frown (and justly so) but it does have its perks where the beginners are concerned.

  4. Show them plays that do what films cannot do.

    A frequent objection to theatre I hear is – when I can see better acting, superior production values and more sophisticated plots in films, why should I watch theatre?

    Theatre has some attributes that films do not. Theatre is here and now. Counter the objections with plays that play up the plusses of being live. Go for Yours Truly’s The Common Man in which the audience decides the play’s dรฉnouement. Go for And Sunshine Follows the Rain in which multiple actors enact a single part. Go for Bikhre Bimb in which a character converses with her alter-ego in a way never possible in film.

What has been your experience? Have you encouraged friends who do not watch theatre to try it out? Have you succeeded, and if so, what has been your "methodology"? Let us know through your comments.

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Article by Shuchi

Shuchi lives in Bangalore (mostly), when she isn’t traveling out of town for work. She adores theatre and writes about plays she watches whenever she gets a chance.

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13 Comments to “Converting "Normal" People Into Theatre-Goers”

  1. I hear you!! I had an identical experience when I dragged colleagues along for Butter&Mashed Bananas. Tip no. 4 is creative, must try! Thanks for the fun article Shuchi.

    June 6th, 2010 1:53 am

  2. Hi Shuchi,
    Thank you for mentioning about Common Man in your article, did you by any chance watch the play?
    Our current production is called Bhagwan Dhundoo (in search of god) its done in the similar style where the audience gets to end the last few scenes of the play which is then enacted by the actors on the spot.
    Do come in for the next show, its in Aug 2010; let me know if u r keen to come.

    June 9th, 2010 1:48 pm

  3. Hi Shuchi,
    1. Your website is very well structured, grt job ๐Ÿ™‚
    2. Good to see that you are doing reviews of plays, grt going ๐Ÿ™‚
    3. Continue the reviewing. Personally I feel with every new initiative the biggest challenge is consistency. Do try and do more review, keep the dramadose flag flying high, let me know if you need any help.
    Break a Leg
    Ranji ๐Ÿ™‚

    June 9th, 2010 2:15 pm

  4. Hi Ranji, Yes I did watch The Common Man. All the best for Bhagwan Dhundoo, email me the details of the next show. I’ll try to make it if I’m around.

    Thanks for your kind words about DramaDose. Truth be told, I write when I have something to share without stressing myself over comprehensive coverage or regularity of posting. Helps me keep it like a labour of love rather than a chore :).

    June 9th, 2010 4:27 pm

  5. Shuchi,
    That sounds like a better plan, writing at ur pace and comfort level. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Bhagwand Dhundoo is a musical, the 4th show is on Aug 29(sunday) at ADA Rangamandira at 7:00 pm, do come.

    Now that I have reviewed ur site and given u a feedback, u need to review us ๐Ÿ™‚

    June 10th, 2010 11:23 am

  6. A tough one..esp as some theatre goers (yours truly included)may be regarded by their friends as not being entirely “normal”;).I faced a similar experience in getting my (other Bengali) friends to watch Satyajit Ray movies.I managed to do it by insinuating that the said movies were full of masala:).

    August 27th, 2010 4:38 pm

  7. It is Arundhati Nag or Arundhati Rao(previous to marriage) and not Arundhati Raja as you have written.

    October 23rd, 2010 9:48 pm

  8. Hi Rakesh

    Arundhati Raja and Arundhati Nag/Rao are different people. I would not make that statement about Arundhati Nag, a crowd-puller in her own right!

    Arundhati Raja used to do the English version of this play, which is not as famous as Shabana Azmi’s. OTOH, in Bangalore Arundhati Nag’s version of this play (Bikhre Bimb, Hindi) is hugely popular, maybe more than Shabana Azmi’s (Broken Images).

    October 23rd, 2010 10:10 pm

  9. Suchi,

    Sorry, my bad. I knew both Arundhati Nag(have seen this play in Kannnada with her as lead) and Shabana Azmi acted for this play.Didn’t know about Arundhati Raja also having acted in the same play. Too many Arundhatis!!!!!!!
    Anyway, good website. Keep it up

    October 24th, 2010 7:52 am

  10. enjoyed reading this.
    happy to discover this space.
    write on, Shuchi

    March 17th, 2011 2:43 pm

  11. Thanks nadi!

    March 17th, 2011 3:39 pm

  12. Shuchi,

    I wish I had read this post earlier and not learnt it the hard way. I did try to get some of my friends into watching theatre but made the mistake of taking them to a german/english play that was quite abstract and relied on lighting and music to lead the narrative. Ever since they have vowed not to watch plays.

    Anyways, I’m a newbie to your website and have read a good number of posts in the last 2-3 days. You have a good flair for theatre reviews. My best wishes. Keep writing ๐Ÿ™‚

    July 11th, 2011 12:22 pm

  13. Hi Ashok,

    Welcome here. About friends who will not watch plays with you, I feel your pain. ๐Ÿ˜›

    Thanks for your nice words. Keep visting. ๐Ÿ™‚

    July 13th, 2011 1:47 am

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