$119 is Too Much.

I’m sorry, but no one should be paying $119 per ticket to see SITI company at UCLA. That ticket price is prohibitive and elitist. Yes, kudos to UCLA for making ticket prices a flat rate of $15 for their students, and a flat rate of $25 for their faculty/staff. Great. But the rest of us, if we want to see the show, must find $119—each—in order watch work from a company that touts itself on its “innovation and creation of new forms of theater that challenge accepted norms and defy classification.”  Does anyone else get a faint whiff of hypocrisy-or-something-like-it?

You know what is NOT a new form?
Do you know what IS an accepted norm?

This is a major complaint for myself and others with the Broadway ticket price structure, and for commercial theater at large.  But it is somehow even worse when this kind of ticket pricing comes from a company whose mission statement is (and I quote): “We believe that through the practice of collaboration, a group of artists working together over time can have a significant impact upon both contemporary theater and the world at large. / Through our performances, educational programs and collaborations with other artists and thinkers, SITI Company will continue to challenge the status quo, to train to achieve artistic excellence in every aspect of our work, and to offer new ways of seeing and of being as both artists and as global citizens.”

How much of an impact on the “world at large” can you have when your ticket prices are prohibitive? How many of us are going to have the opportunity to be exposed to these “new ways of seeing and of being” that you want to share with us, if we can’t afford to get in the building?

Not to mention that a SITI company season typically only offers the world 10 – 20 days of performances. This limited number of performances is in large part due to the intensive, immersive nature of their process — SITI does a lot of dramaturgical exploration as a group, including embodied exploration, before moving to the shaping and structuring of what becomes the play/performance.

It takes them a while to create their performances.  And when something is in such small supply, and has had such care invested into it, there is certainly a capitalist argument to be made about ROI, and profit/loss margins, etc., and that argument factors into ticket pricing.

I get it.  I do.  I was briefly the General Manager for Prospect Theater Project; I worked as the Administrative Assistant to a university theatre department and tracked over 5 separate budget lines; I worked for a Broadway General Management company and picked up some insight into “the way things work.”

But I can understand the motivation behind ticket pricing and yet still be angry about it.

Mind you, this is not wholly the fault of SITI Company, or Royce Hall at UCLA. This has every bit as much to do with a lack of support for the arts in America. Ticket prices are high, not for simple reasons of greed or elitism on the parts of theatre companies and venue box offices, but because it is hard to keep theatre doors open to the public without revenue from tickets. Mind you, there are few (if any!) theatres/theatre companies that could survive on their ticket sales alone. But without that income, lights would dim.

It’s so frustrating to not be able to go to this.

Do better, America.


Just as an fyi, here is a description of event, from the Center for the Art of Performance event listing:
“The Center for the Art of Performance is honored to bring back New York-based SITI Company. A world-renowned ensemble, SITI Company is lauded for its innovation and the creation of new forms of theater that challenge accepted norms and defy classification. Their recent work, the theater is a blank page, is a much-heralded collaboration with celebrated visual artist Ann Hamilton, internationally recognized for the sensory surrounds of her large-scale multimedia installations. Hamilton has a long history of including performative elements in her installation work, and the theater is a blank page demonstrates her interest in shaping performance from a conceptual, visual art-based perspective. Co-directed by Hamilton and acclaimed SITI Co-Artistic Director Anne Bogart, the project draws equally on SITI Company’s impeccable skills as theater-makers, pushing their aesthetic into fresh, new territory.
This immersive performance installation utilizes the entirety of the theater, as the audience is led through the balconies, to the production shops, into the wings and finally onto the stage itself. With text drawn directly from Virginia Woolf’s 1927 novel To the Lighthouse, the novel’s evocative language and inventive narrative—which skillfully deploy shifting temporal and psychological perspectives alongside poignant ruminations on loss, subjectivity and perception—make it a fertile point of departure for artists of different disciplines to find deep kinship in a collaboration addressing the experience of reading and being read to.”

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