The Wandering Poet

Buffy Brinkley on the Things that Inspire my Life, my Pen, and my Heart.

Stage Door and the Trusty Baseball Analogy

on November 29, 2016

Okay, so recently Richard Armitage gave an interview to Broadway World. In it, he was asked about Stage Door and what it meant to him, particularly regarding how he viewed the SD experience. Here’s what he said: 

“Yeah, you do learn to deal with it. [Laughs] I always say to myself, whatever it takes to get someone to buy a ticket to come to the theater. Audiences are growing older and we’re hoping to get younger people into the theater, so whatever it takes. If people come to see the show, great. If they’re less bothered about the show and more bothered about the selfie at the stage door, it doesn’t matter to me as long as they’re coming. You know, we’ve had people come from far and wide, which is great. It sort of helps the Roundabout creative and those programs and the global marketplace. Everyone always comes through New York, it’s a great destination. If on their whistle stop tour of the Empire State Building and then seeing something at the Roundabout Theatre becomes part of the tour, then I think that’s a good thing.

That’s always the goal! A couple of comments that stay in my mind from being on stage in more recent years are people saying, “I’ve never been to the theater before. I can’t believe what I’ve been missing all these years!” Or young people that look at you and you can see they are not used to a kind of live experience. It’s the one thing that it’s changing. I think a lot of children and young people grew up with technology as early as they can remember. So to actually have to switch your phone off and watch somebody in front of you, live, is just sort of become a unique experience. Where it was the opposite many years ago. I think we are the last bastion of live. There’s no amplification of voice; there’s no auto-tuning; there’s a few lights. It’s a very simple experience.”

Some people got downright offended by this. Why? If you were in the business of promoting baseball games, would you be more concerned with people who came to the game just to have the opportunity to catch a pop fly foul than those who came to actually watch the game?  Or would it really matter to you as long as tickets were sold and the stadium could remain open for additional games and everyone had a job tomorrow and the national pastime flourished? Who knows: maybe those who came just for the chance to catch a pop foul might actually ENJOY the game and want to come back for another game someday.  That’s Richard’s point. He doesn’t mind what drew you to the theater initially (the play or the stage door opportunity) as long as you’re coming because it keeps tradition alive, it helps the theater stay in the business of bringing great plays to audiences, and hey, you might actually enjoy the play and want to see another one someday. It opens you up to a different experience; one you may actually like regardless of the stage door.

Please think about this: Richard’s JOB consisted of doing the best he could as an actor on the stage and delivering the role he’s hired to deliver.  When the play is over, what you paid for is over. 

Richard isn’t obligated to do Stage Door. If he does it, great! He’ll do the best he can to accommodate as many folks as he can because that’s who he is! If he misses you, or you don’t get the experience you hoped for, please give him a break! He’s only one person! And, when the fandom weighs in, he’s only one person in ratio to a couple hundred thousand! Could YOU manage that?! If he doesn’t do stage door, that should be okay, too! 

Now imagine Richard is the owner of the baseball stadium and put yourself in his shoes: How would you feel if you were suddenly harassed and bashed because no one hit the pop foul they had specifically bought a ticket to catch? How could you even begin to guarantee it? You couldn’t! Either a pop foul is hit or it’s not. And, even then, there’s no way to ensure it would be hit in any one person’s direction! The person bought a ticket to the game and the person had use of the stadium seat and the opportunity to watch the game. That’s what was paid for. Hope the person enjoyed it! And, hey, if the pop foul happens, great! But, if not–or the person didn’t get the chance to catch it–maybe the person will give the game another chance and leave expectation at the ticket booth. Maybe the person will just relax and enjoy the game.


(Pic source: Roundabout Theatre)

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