Wednesday, October 8, 2014


We go to the theatre on and off, mostly picking the eyes of a season for the big names, or plays of particular interest. I've only intermittently subscribed, and then to Belvoir and Sydney Theatre Company. We struggle with so much on (town and country, two orchestra subs, big Hayes Theatre fans, this and that, travel and work, at home and not). And I am on mailing lists of many theatres and companies (Seymour, State, and Carriageworks all doing really interesting stuff).

So, here's how to get it right, and in this instance I'm talking about Sydney Theatre Company.

First, send an email with the season details announcing renewals, dates etc noting New (non-renewing) Season ticket sales commence Oct 14

Next, have a good season ~~

     *  at The Wharf, The Opera House, The Sydney Theatre 

      * with names like Robyn Nevin, Cate Blanchett, Jaqueline Mckensie, Richard Roxborough, Hugo Weaving, Susie Porter, Geoffrey Rush (with Neil Armfield)

      * with playwrights like Chekhov, Tennesee Williams, Beckett, Chekov, Dorfman, Shaw, Woolf, Shakespeare

      * and the hapless non-subscriber just knows waiting till next year means missing out or poor seats or inertia taking over

Then, send a second email announcing that starting at 0900 the next day the recipient will be able to get priority season tickets a week in advance of the public, and that at 0900 tomorrow morning you will get another email which will allow access to early bookings. And telling you to get ready and think about what and when. Which you do. 

Come the morning, the email arrives. You're ready with diary marked to avoid clashes and busy weeks with other subscriptions. But the worry is that you'll get lousy seats and off nights, or something beyond your control as you get sucked into the system, or mystery seats which will arrive next January months after they've got the money.

Have a waiting room, a holding page which will let anxious finger tips stay on the website when it is busy then let you into the booking pages when they free up. Which I didn't need cos I took the dog for a walk and cooled my heels.

Let it flow and be obvious, such that the season is before you, and so you give it a go, only to find out that for each selected play, you can choose any night, AND SELECT SEATS FOR EACH PERFORMANCE, and easily navigate from night to night looking at seating, and once chosen, move onto your next choice, nights and seating again all self-select and on, and on, six times (the minimum for a sub and the maximum for us). And, did you know that:

You get an hour to do all this, everything saved, step by step, nothing crashed, nothing lost, and you think this is

Easy, easy as, because two days ago it was too hard, and now you have good seats for great shows on nights which work, except that you have to pay, but wait, there's

Pay in installments - four installments with a single $10 installment charge. 

Well, you got me Sydney Theatre Company. Well done.


David said...

This is something our mutual friend Roger would approve. And talking of doing things well, here in Stockholm every little detail of the vast press gathering at the Birgit Nilsson Prize is beautifully attended to, right from the invitations to the informal meal in a stupendous restaurant - simple, warm setting, extraordinary food - last night to the short and far from pointless press conference in the gorgeous Grunewald Hall of the Konserthus. Now freizeit so I'm off to the Djurgarten while the sun shines. The grand climax tonight.

Great selection of performers there. Kick myself for missing the sublime Cate when she came to London.

wanderer said...

Roger and I have been in correspondence over the likes of Margherita Grandi (nee Gard, little aussie Maggie Gard), a voice and life worthy of more attention than they get.

Oh my, you are there for That Event. Our good fortune that you are so generous with your fulsome blogging. Can't wait.

Missing Cate was very naughty, especially in Gross und Klein.

Susan Scheid said...

Everyone "in the biz" should look to this as a model. I particularly appreciated the thoughtfulness of being able to choose performances and seats in a continuous flow with an hour to complete. I appreciated, this last year, learning how accommodating the New York Phil is trying to be In this regard, so unlike the beastly Met, where you have no clear choice and don't find out for months what their intensely complicated algorithm has yielded. And of course, of course, a good season and casts. Enjoy the season!

David said...

I hope not to be 'fulsome'. I only found out from a colleague recently that it means 'insincere, excessive in praise'. Since I didn't know it and now do, I 'onpass', as they say.

Wishing we could bring Birgit back from the other side, but in a sense - in all but recapturing that ping to the back of the theatre, the sheer live force - we have her for ever.

wanderer said...

Then it is definitely the wrong word for you. I've been to the Dictionary (on-line) and down the list of meanings comes copious, all-encompassing and the like, but vulgar and excessive top the list, indeed, so fair warning David, it's one to avoid.

Anonymous said...

You are so organized!

The key is always to be able to make a plan and then either by computer or phone make a booking where you know what your seat will be.

That was one thing that put me off the Melbourne Ring lottery.

wanderer said...

Well that's the thing M, they organised me for me which is why it was so clever.

I totally agree about OA and the Ring - we took a chance but only after forking out a fortune (well in advance) to get bumped up the list.

Compare and contrast was my between-the-lines intent.

Susan Scheid said...

Totally off point, but did you see this:

wanderer said...

Yes, it's all over the place. This was my response on another forum;

I think this is absurd, the banning I mean.

But to put some context around it, the anti-smoking campaign in Australia has been vigorous and successful with success being defined in terms of achieving outcomes like no tobacco products being visible in shops (they must be asked for and taken from closed cupboards) and tobacco products all being in plain packaging with the only visible images being of rotten lungs and dead feet et al.

This has been a struggle - a struggle against the tobacco industry which donates to political campaigns and mounts spurious arguments in its defense. But smoking here is rarely seen in public, and frowned upon as shameful.

To repeat, I think the ban on Carmen is absurd, and wonder why creative minds couldn't have make it work in their favour. There's room for thought.

Susan Scheid said...

You're right about the context, and well-stated. It's just surprising, even shocking, that, as you say, creative minds weren't engaged to come up with an alternative. They can't have had the will, for whatever reason, to want to try.

Anonymous said...

Carmen ban appears to be all a publicity-seeking beat-up.

WA Opera offered to their sponsors to implement such a ban - it wasn't requested by them; and WA O have made it clear that after the sponsorship runs its course they will remount "Carmen."

wanderer said...

Yes, indeedy do. And I'm not sure about any publicity is good publicity.

It tore through the bloggosphere as if they had pulled a Carmen, whereas as you point out M, there wasn't one and it was simply a matter of there wouldn't be one under that patronage.

But it did give the usual quick to jump their glorious opportunity to rabbit on about what dolts Australians are etc. and reinforce stereotypes. (vide supra)

David said...

Couldn't they have set it in a helium balloon-making factory ('dans l'air nous suivons...' etc)? If Alex Olle of La Fura dels Baus can mess up Act 2 of Dutchman by having the 'spinners' polishing metal salvage, why not (you'll gather I had a bad time at Le Vaissaue Fantome in Lyon)?

What could Susanna's Secret be under the Ozpolice?

wanderer said...

It's all storm and no teacup, really, but provoked much more discussion than expected (by me) which itself is interesting.

Suzanna's Secret I knew nought about, but having just read the story, am gob-smacked and at a loss for words! Who knew.

I'm all but prepared to forgive La Fura dels Baus just about anything after a shattering Madame Butterfly here earlier this year (still on my half blogged list) which defying all the odds - outdoors, harbour side, compulsory fireworks, orchestra sound reminiscent of the 60's radiogram - completely brought me undone.

wanderer said...

More here.

"If the WA Opera is any example, it seems that arts companies are dazed and confused by how to negotiate their way through sponsorship deals. In the tradition of Australian arts companies and artists who feel they have to apologise for their existence — we’re nice to have around but not really essential — they are willing to bend over backwards to satisfy the suits. Arts leaders need to realise that although the corporates have the dollars, these corporates need to associate themselves with something they don’t possess: talent, artistry, vision – and conviction.

Roger Neill said...

I only just caught up with your post, wanderer, and it's a fine model. It's hard enough finding audiences without making it difficult for the punters.

My attendance at so many Schubert song recitals in Oxford this month stemmed initially from sitting next to the impresario Sholto Kynoch at an Endymion concert in London. He followed up by email (and booked my hero, Endymion clarinettist Mark van der Wiel, for his final concert). The next steps were seamless - and I'm going to the fourth out of nine bookings on Saturday - Thomas Allen singing Die Winterreise.

I may well steal from your post, suitably modified to Oxford, for a post of mine!

David said...

Only connect (this and previous post) - we've just had Belvoir Sydney's radical rewriting of Ibsen's The Wild Duck (with a real live specimen) at the Barbican. One of the most shattering evenings I've ever spent in the theatre. Reviewed it for The Arts Desk and would go again if it were on for more than a week. Ensemble all superb and real.

wanderer said...

Yes Roger - it surely isn't so hard to be easy. Makes you wonder what arrogance must lie behind some marketing subscription campaigns.

I've read your report of Die Winterreise with considerable envy - Thomas Allen, and the fact that I've not ever heard it live!

wanderer said...

David that's so good to hear. We didn't get to see it here (so much slips by as we try to stay sane with work and otherwise play) but last week we did see Belvoir's The Glass Menagerie and it was wonderful - should it travel, catch it.

Belvoir has a fine history of innovative theatre in a space here of remarkable intimacy. (Neil Armfield was at the helm for many years.)

And rewriting is a bit de jour down here with Andrew Upton (Mr Blanchett) hard at it too.