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Advertisements at the theaterFilm previews before the performance


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#1 jonellew

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 03:53 PM

Last weekend I went to see Ballet Austin's production of Stephen Mills' Hamlet, which I was anticipating very much since it has had considerable success since the 2000 premiere, and which I actually did enjoy. However, I did not enjoy the commercials that were played on a screen on a scrim before the performance.

The advertisements were like previews at the movies: two "trailers" for the company's upcoming shows and an advertisement for the school. While I understand that this may in fact sell tickets, I just can't accept it. It totally broke the atmosphere and broke the "our world—blackout—their world" transition that is, in my opinion, the splendor of the proscenium theater. (To make strange stranger, people down in the orchestra applauded when the commercials were over.) I can't imagine this happening at the Met! Wouldn't people completely freak out?

I'm just wondering whether anyone has seen this type of advertising elsewhere.

#2 Hans

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 05:16 PM

I've never seen that, and I hope I never do.

#3 bart

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 06:31 PM

:D I'm with you, jonellew. If they feel that they MUST do promo films, let them save it for the lobby. Or for a fundraiser where it is presented in the context of a presentation of what the Board is doing to raise money.

Has anyone seen this method -- or something similar -- with other companies?

#4 kfw

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 06:33 PM

Last weekend I went to see Ballet Austin's production of Stephen Mills' Hamlet, which I was anticipating very much since it has had considerable success since the 2000 premiere, and which I actually did enjoy. However, I did not enjoy the commercials that were played on a screen on a scrim before the performance.

This season before the performance, next year during intermission as well? Ugh, ugh, and ugh again.

#5 carbro

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 06:40 PM

I wonder if the payment received in exchange for showing the trailers enabled them to put on the show at all. Smaller and medium-sized companies especially are having to resort to desperate measures these days, and while I do think it detracts from the ballet experience and hope never to encounter it, we as the audience should consider the companies' options in these days of depleted revenues.

Part of me wants to congratulate Ballet Austin for its resourcefulness.

#6 Pointe1432

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 09:07 PM

At least they were BA related and not for something else right? Like a Whataburger commercial before the ballet maybe?!?! :FIREdevil:

Which performance did you see?

-Pointe1432

#7 sandik

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 09:40 AM

I'm of multiple minds about this. A couple years ago Pacific Northwest Ballet gave a series of festival performances honoring local artists, and as you walked in the theater they had a 'slide show' of images from recent history on a screen in front of the main curtain. It included some text about the individuals shown, some self-promotion (list of dates of festival performances) and a list of festival sponsors. I can't say that I love advertisements in this context, but I do know that there would be no context without them.

I think the tougher question is, do you want a visual ad, or do you want the artistic director to come out in front of the curtain with each show to read through a list of donors (a practice that is very common in modern dance events in my part of the world)

#8 Natalia

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 09:54 AM

Two examples. Neither is quite the same thing as the film but also annoying, IMO:

1. Budapest Opera House, ca 2002: three new-model Audi cars were placed ON THE GRAND STAIRCASE that leads to the auditorium. Yup not on solid ground but literally tilting, placed directly on a staircase. Audience had to squeeze around the cars to get up the staircase. Tacky - tacky. This is a staircase that was designed to look like the one at the Paris-Garnier Opera House!

2. George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, recently: Their dance series is sponsored by a local area bank. A truly-tacky banner tops the proscenium, inside the auditorium.

The Mariinsky often has tacky advertising banners on its main facade, facing Theater Square, e.g., "Alfa Bank presents the Stars of the White Nights Festival," but at least these are outdoors and the "Alfa Bank" part is in smaller font.

#9 PeggyR

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 04:33 PM

I wonder if the payment received in exchange for showing the trailers enabled them to put on the show at all. Smaller and medium-sized companies especially are having to resort to desperate measures these days, and while I do think it detracts from the ballet experience and hope never to encounter it, we as the audience should consider the companies' options in these days of depleted revenues.

Part of me wants to congratulate Ballet Austin for its resourcefulness.


Amen.

In these difficult financial times, my transient annoyance is much less important than the survival of these small companies that struggle at the best of times. If ads are the only way to keep these companies going, then so be it.

#10 carbro

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 05:06 PM

I hadn't thought of it until now, but if you are standing on line at the NYCB box office, you'll be watching the videos from the NYCBallet.com Viewing Room that features the ballets being performed that week. I think of it as a good way to make the wait seem shorter. But once you're in the theater, they're not there.

#11 bart

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 05:33 PM

I'm still skeptical about extended inside-the-auditorium commercials of the sort jonellew describes. I don't mind so much signs, brief thank yous, or even more intrusive eventss taking place in the box office area or lobby. I

Once you'e in the auditorium you cannot easily get away. The phrase "captive audience" comes to mind.

It's like receiving a telemarketing phone call at an inconvenient time and discovering that the speaker is a recorded voice. A personal appeal from the stage, from the AD or someone like that, has the virtue of being a kind of "live performance."

Jonellew put it better than I can ...

It totally broke the atmosphere and broke the "our world—blackout—their world" transition that is, in my opinion, the splendor of the proscenium theater.


I understand the economic difficulties companies are facing. But ... have they considered the possible negative reactions to this kind of thing? Audiences don't need additional excuses for not contributing to the companies they enjoy.

#12 Helene

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 06:27 PM

I've seen sponsors listed on opera supertitles screens at many performances, including ballet that is performed in an opera house, where one fades into the other, and with the "Turn off your @%^&&&& cellphones, pagers, beepers" warning interspersed.

I don't think this happens at the Met with in-seat Met Titles. I only remember the turn on/off message, and then the libretto. But maybe I turned them on too soon before the performance began when I was there in December.

#13 jonellew

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 06:35 PM

Part of me wants to congratulate Ballet Austin for its resourcefulness.


It's true that I imagine they probably did sell at least a few tickets to their upcoming shows, so I see what you mean, carbro. Still, I think the lobby, as other mentioned, is a much better place for this kind of advertising.

At least they were BA related and not for something else right? Like a Whataburger commercial before the ballet maybe?!?! :)

Which performance did you see?

-Pointe1432


OMG, a Whataburger (that's a fast-food chain, for all those not in Texas) ad would have sent me straight back to the box office demanding my money back! I saw the Sunday performance only, unfortunately. I would have like to see it more than once.

This also had me thinking of another pre-show ritual that bothered me (though, it retrospect, it is not as bothersome as the commercials). I went to see the Stanislavsky Ballet on tour once—it may have been in Denver or Boston—and the orchestra played the national anthems of both Russia and the U.S. before starting in on Don Q. I was quite incensed at the time—for me, it seemed like "church" and state should have been separated, i.e., the state not revered in my "church," the theater. In retrospect, though, it wasn't all that bad, and I should have been appreciative that the company toured with an orchestra at all.

#14 dirac

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 06:34 PM

I wonder if the payment received in exchange for showing the trailers enabled them to put on the show at all. Smaller and medium-sized companies especially are having to resort to desperate measures these days, and while I do think it detracts from the ballet experience and hope never to encounter it, we as the audience should consider the companies' options in these days of depleted revenues.

Part of me wants to congratulate Ballet Austin for its resourcefulness.


I can't find it in my heart to condemn companies who are doing this from hunger, either. I wish they wouldn't but these days, especially, it's not for me to judge. jonellew (and thanks for starting this topic) is right to say the lobby is the better place, but that's not where your captive audience is.


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