• KeepEmHonest

    No, Broken Nose is not “one of the first theatres in the city with a pay-as-you-can policy.” Chicago’s Curious Theater Branch and Theater Oobleck have had exactly that policy for nearly 30 years. So has Chicago’s Rhinoceros Theater Festival, which has been around for 26 years. It’s embarrassing for American Theater magazine to base an article on this counterfactual claim.

    • Alex

      What a weird thing to pick out of this article… how is that your takeaway? It’s like you were looking for something to gripe about.

      Also, the fact that a person can list the companies participating in the PWYC model means that it’s still a rarity. Yes, there are a handful of awesome companies doing this, but until the overall percentages start reaching into the 30’s, it’s still “one of the first.”

      • KellyNFP

        Let’s don’t forget Oracle Productions, whose “public access” model means every seat is free, period. But that in no way diminishes Broken Nose’s decision.

        • Alex

          True! Oracle deserves a major hat tip. Though “public access” is different than “pay-what-you-can,” and blurring the line between the two, IMO, doesn’t give Oracle the props they deserve.

      • sgbrun

        hi Alex, as one of the theatermakers with over 30 years working at making innovative and politically responsive theater, I thought about your question. A comment is not always the complete take-away. Everyone applauds Broken Nose’s great work. But it is not wrong to question and note the bias for ‘new’ and ‘just invented’ and ‘youth’, which is very commodity oriented thinking. It is also worth questioning whether those who have worked a long time, often providing the platform for the great new workers, do not deserve to be mentioned, as a contribution to sustainable theater culture, with which American Theatre Mag should be concerned. Am I wrong?

        • Alex

          Hi SGBrun, thanks for your thoughtful reply! You make some excellent points, especially about the bias for “new” and “innovative” when it’s essentially reinventing the wheel — which I don’t think Broken Nose thinks they’re doing, as no where in their statement do they claim they are one of the firsts to do this. Spenser Davis does say that perhaps it will pave the way for more to do it — but that doesn’t imply that they believe themselves to be the first company to do this, but are rather trying to encourage the community to take a look at their payment model, and see if something like this is doable, or at least spark conversation about economic barriers in the arts.

          I think what got me irritated at the OP was, “It’s embarrassing for American Theater Mag to base an article on this counterfactual claim.” I feel that that kind of statement is divisive and distracting from the point. It comes off as troll-ish and casts a shadow on what is overall a positive article about a positive initiative.

          Additionally — the multiple theaters that the OP notes have been doing this for 20+ years, launched during a different economic climate. So why would it be a bad thing to reinvigorate the conversation about PWYC, prove it’s still doable today, and get the payment model a little press, possibly driving more interest for those original theaters? Perhaps the author should have mentioned other theaters (and by the way, there are only a handful, so I would consider Broken Nose to still be “one of the first” but that’s just arguing semantics) but claiming the article “embarrassing” feels like a credit grab to me, rather than care about the unification of community/artistic goals, of which all theaters have in common.

  • Adam Kern

    Coeurage Theatre Company in LA is in their 3-4th year as a company offering Pay what you want, and have been very successful, both in attendance and in quality of work.