Gateway Drugs and the Theater

John Wernke and Bill Dawes in "Bronx Bombers." Photo by: James Leynse

John Wernke and Bill Dawes in “Bronx Bombers.” Photo by: James Leynse

This article from The New York Times talks about the new play Bronx Bombers, which is about the New York Yankees and their long, glorious history. Much of the talk when it comes to this kind of thing is that it can be used to get people who would not otherwise go to a play to go to a play. In effect, it can be used as a gateway drug to other, “harder” stuff.

If it’s used as “bait” before returning to the normal programming, this won’t work reliably or sustainably though, of course, some converts will be made.

If it’s part of a commitment to content designed for an audience other than the same audience that always comes, I think it could work very well.

In other words, if you’re a die-hard Yankees fan, you might go see this show just because of that. If the next show offered is two French guys sitting on a bare stage discussing Sartre, you’re probably not coming back.

On the other hand, the next show doesn’t have to be about the long, glorious history of the New York Knicks (obviously fiction) to get you back. It just has to speak to you in a way that matters, and then there’s a chance.

If you want to grow audiences with shows like this, I think that’s the key.

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