Oh Lordy, I seem to have opened a can of worms…in a good way! The debate is still going on about theatre in Limerick (and beyond). It started with a review of the play, Fight Night, with a few personal remarks at the end. I asked for opinions and I published several responses in this post. Then, the man behind Fight Night, Aonghus Óg McAnally responded—which I posted here. And there are a few new responses below.
What I said was: I want to know why more people don’t go to the theatre in Limerick and in general? What is so off-putting? Do you dislike certain venues? Do you have a problem with the choice of production on offer? Is the cost prohibitive? Are you intimidated by the theatre? Do you have an opinion?
Short remarks in the comment box below (with names please) but people can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I think it’s great to see a visiting artist reply to his experience in Limerick – and mainly to contribute to the conversation. We at Bottom Dog Theatre Company know all about how difficult it is to even break even on a show when you are without arts council funding and have similarly toured all over the country with a one man show as we believe in the work and that it should be seen far beyond just Dublin or in our case just Limerick. Our venue The Loft got a brief mention by Maeve but for those commenting that there seemed to be little going awareness of what’s on – that’s a two way street. If you are interested and active you of course will find out – by contacting the venues, looking in the arts pages, listening in to Limerick diary etc.
To advertise is the singular biggest cost of anyone promoting an event. I can tell you from personal experience that shows have often given the highest proportion of ticket sales direct to ineffective advertising – which has taken up valuable income stream away from actors who are barely getting by. It’s a terrible situation but one that I play no small violin for, as we have have chosen this life, there were no arms twisted. But it goes without saying that we all – artists, technicals and creatives need to make a living too. I think we know how I feel re: the sound at the back of the main stage in town, and how it upsets me deeply as an artist and audience member that it is still unresolved (and that’s not placing the blame anywhere to acknowledge that it is still not).
Finally our Loft venue has been running for 18 months and we have had over 20 productions, over 5000 people through the doors. These are not made up statistics but well documented ones. We have worked incredibly hard to find a new audience all who book on a tailored system of text and reply, and who know our shows will rarely be over €10. Yes this means we make less money in the short term but as our audience has grown, longer runs become possible. In essence we have been building from the ground up all over again and finding a way to allow visiting companies to produce at a venue with very little risk and share more than equitably in the spoils of success. It has also allowed our own company, and other Limerick companies such as Magic Roundabout, Orchard, Quarry Players, Torch Players and Wildebeest a warm atmosphere where a small crowd never feels that small and a packed house is increasingly likely as the time has gone in. We are all very proud of this fact and more than proud that Limerick’s legacy of theatre and audience attendance does continue and hopefully begin to thrive as we move on down the line.”
“I agree totally with the praise of Fight Night, yet it’s the sentiments in respect to pricing and value for money that touch a nerve, please guys support local artists and local venues where the revenue goes to the artists and not the corporate fat cats. High pricing is not a cure for bad management and poor programming of the past. We need to build loyalty and an ongoing interest in theatre. In the words of the Jewish Tailor “Lots of small profit is better than one big one” Rant Over.”