There are no tickets left for sale at every performance of Intiman Theatre’s upcoming staging of the The Events, written by David Grieg and directed by Paul Budraitis. That’s because most of the costs of production have already been underwritten by donors Lauren Dudley, Cynthia Sears, Marcia and Klaus Zech, and US Bank. Intiman is still fundraising for the rest, but they are making the tickets available to everyone—no purchase required.
To get this news in a press release this morning was poignant, one hour after reading a tortuous piece of clickbait published by the American Theatre Group. That article came suggested in one of my topical newsfeeds, titled “Will Theatre Ever Regain Centerstage in Our Culture?” The author spends a few hundred, SEO-optimized words to say approximately nothing, except that theatre never had a golden age and is always changing.
The art world’s need to hear itself talk (about theory and business, and all the bastards between them) stirs endless debate about why this medium or that genre is dead or dying—what and who is relevant, and what and who is not. To anyone outside that breathless loop, it might come as a surprise that such concerns merit expression in the first place. In fact, they don’t, least of all when the ATG’s evidence for the robustness of theatre is the success of Broadway blockbusters and playwrights straddling the worlds of TV and stage.
There is no mention of the ongoing vibrancy of local theatres outside of Broadway, in cities like Seattle, for example. Nor was there any mention of the factors that have made theatre feel inaccessible to many people. No, it isn’t the lack of spectacle, but rather the cost of admission
The sticker shock that comes with blockbuster productions is one thing, but even a 20 dollar ticket is prohibitive to many. The audiences are there, but assuming that they find the show and the time to attend, cost remains a factor. It’s true for all realms of the arts, which in some corners thrive on the sense of exclusivity and the disappearance of the middle class, and the artists and institutions that they once supported.
Not Intiman, though.
This bold move comes just months after the company announced that the last of its longstanding debts have been retired. Those debts nearly sank the company for good a few years back, but the company survived by stripping down to its core values: storytelling as a path to transformation, individually and socially. The leadership—first under Artistic Director Andrew Russell, then under current AD Jennifer Zeyl—went to festival format and focused on works by writers and performers on the margins. Generous donors supported them in this effort, and now this generosity of spirit is being extended to audiences that can freely access the work.
About The Events
Mass shootings are a nigh daily occurrence in the United States, and each one destroys lives, scars families forever, and tears the fabric of entire communities. The causation is hotly contested, and reckoning with those causes is just one part of the healing process for those affected. As complicated as the causes of any tragedy may be, the aftermath is even more so. The plot of The Events follows a mass shooting, and through its characters “hold space as a community and process together,” in the words of Zeyl.
The production runs July 18 through August 10 at The Erickson Theatre (1524 Harvard Ave, Seattle, WA 98122). Each showing will integrate a different community choir from Seattle into the performance.
To receive tickets for THE EVENTS, go to intiman.org or show up in person to the box office on the day of the show, beginning two hours before curtain. Of course, not everyone has easy access to internet, and Intiman is guaranteeing walk up ticket availability for all shows. A wait list will also be created at the box office in case of cancellations or no-shows among online orders.
“The executive staff at Intiman want to flip the model of non-profit producing and find ways to share the art on our stage with more people in the community,” says Intiman Executive Director Phillip Chavira. “I’m so proud of our staff, board, and supporters for their willingness to explore this free ticket model as we seek to expand our audience and welcome everyone into the theatre, from those who have been with us for 47 years, to those who have never seen a play.”
In their press release, Intiman also credits local and national theatres who “blazed the trail for this free ticketing model, including Mixed Blood in Minneapolis and Theatre Battery in Kent.”
Update (May 3, 2019): An earlier version of this article stated that all costs for The Events have already been covered. The article has been updated to reflect that most of the expenses are covered, but not all…yet.