Why won't media review your play? Not enough critics

November 26, 2010

Y'see, the problem is there just aren't enough theater critics. Sure, Chicago has several dozen credible men and women who write, blog or broadcast about theater on a daily or weekly basis, but it simply doesn't work when you have 14 shows opening in three days, as was the case last Friday-Sunday. In fact, 40 shows will open in local theaters between Nov. 12 and Nov. 30, or better than two-a-day. And our little Off-Loop theater troupes wonder why they can't get reviewers to come see them. Hey, even a critic has to see the new Harry Potter or spend the night sharpening knives. Some critics even have kids.

We understand that every theater company wants to open a show before Thanksgiving so it can run four weeks or six weeks and still close before Christmas, but the result is a total scheduling mess. Social networking now provides a mechanism for promoting shows to potential ticket buyers without benefit of press or the risk of negative write-ups. Still, there's nothing as immediately effective in creating a hit as newspaper, broadcast and/or blog coverage by the pros. But, pilgrim, they jest ain't enough pros--or media outlets--to go around, especially not 40 times in 18 days.

Our advice to Off-Loop theater companies: next year, skip November.