I think it has become abundantly clear that I more than just act in Rorschach shows. I have been an Artistic Partner with Rorschach for the last 5 seasons. When I say that most people want to know what does that mean. I really don't have an answer for that. What I can tell you is what I have taken on since I became a partner and a big part of that is getting the critics to come see the shows.
Not to harp on it but Rorschach is a small company, not the smallest mind you but we still have to squeeze every dollar we spend so that most of it lands on stage. We don't have the money to run fancy ads in the Post or underwrite broadcasting on WETA, most of our advertising budget goes into post cards and ads in the Guide to the Lively Arts every Friday. How do we make up for this disadvantage when all the big boys and girls, and you know who they are, spend as much on advertising as they do on production sometimes? The answer is to get as much free press as you can.
I have posted links to the articles that Christina Talcott and Jane Horwitz have written about us for the Post, but as much as those articles help to create the buzz you need to practice the fine art of P.A.I.S. (put asses in seats), the press that makes or breaks you is reviews.
As an actor I am supposed to reject the importance of reviews to the work going on, but let's face it folks it is easier to get people to come if you have a couple of meaty quotes from the critics to whip out. People, either through conditioning or through experience, are more likely to see a show they have a passing interest in if the show is well reviewed. While a good write-up is no guarantee of success, you can't beat the impact of a review and a picture in the City Paper or the Post. And the most important factor for a small company is that good or bad, a review is a free piece of advertising.
So as opening approached I spent my days on the phone with editors and reviewers, gently reminding them that we are opening this weekend. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call, other times it takes three or four phone calls, three emails and personal ad, to get a commitment from the critics to come. And its not just the big papers you want there, in this day and age of what I like to call the internet, there are on-line reviews which while not as widely read as the Post and City Paper still P.A.I.S.
A good review or any review is not the end of the world if a play has buzz. When Rorschach produced The Master and Margarita a couple of seasons back, I couldn't get anyone from the Post to come to see the show until we were half way through the run. Apparently everyone at the Post goes on vacation in August thinking there is no theater going on. Even when they sent someone to see the show he was not a critic and left half way through the performance. He came back and the Post ran a great review. But The Master and Margarita was the kind of show that sort of sold itself and we sold out the entire run even before the critics had come. Sometimes you can create your own buzz when the show you are selling is that good and a story people want to see. I think that The Beard of Avon is just that sort of play and the more people who you tell the less we will have to rely on reviews and the work can speak for itself.