Wow. I have never been in a show that had this many reviews come out after opening weekend. I think it shows how far Vestige Group has come in the last two years. I did a show with them when I first moved to Austin, The New Jersey Book of the Dead, and we didn’t have a single reviewer come out to see it (which was sad because the direction was solid and the performances by Rachel McGinnis and Richard Romeo were incredibly moving despite the problems posed by the script). Susie Gidseg and the rest of the company stage projects that they love and they find creative solutions to much of what keeps theatre from being performed in Austin. Take TOUCH for example. We are mounting this show in the strange little courtyard of an eastside coffee shop. Sure there are inconveniences to this scenario. Last night there were two trains, LOUD trains, that rumbled through Andrew’s monologue. One night, we didn’t have power until ten minutes before curtain. On opening night, something caused the sound to cut in and out. There are mosquitoes. There is the heat, which I’m sure kept people away last night. There are drunken people on the street. There is a gate to the apartments behind us that opens and closes with every car, or incredibly rumbly scooter, that goes in and out. Then there is also the exhausting fact that every single night we have to build the set, and every single night we have to strike it. There is a lot of labor. There are a lot of distractions. But there is also magic. There is also the stars and the moon. There is also the fact that we don’t have to clear $1000 a week in order to not lose money just putting on the show.
I don’t think people that go to see theatre in this town have any idea about the costs of mounting a production here. Even a bare bones one such as ours. If we were renting out any of the regular theaters here, we would have to have almost sold out performances every night to just pay the rent. That kind of overhead is a daunting consideration. If for some reason, you can’t fill the seats, then you eat the cost. Many theatre companies in town have to dig themselves out for a very long time if a production just doesn’t bring in bodies. Which affects their whole season. Things get cancelled. Talented, wonderful people start to doubt themselves. It stifles the spirit. Money does this! This infuriates me. I’m sure theaters have their own overhead issues, and I don’t mean to cast them as the villain in this scenario, but because it costs so much, innovative theatre companies are looking for ways to get around this model. So you have shows in courtyards. Or bookstores. Or whatever someone discovers next.
Wow – didn’t really foresee that little rant. All I meant to say is that I am thrilled that we are getting reviewed. I’m thrilled that The Vestige Group is growing in well-earned prestige. I’m thrilled that there is a thoughtful contingent of critics in this town and that one self-satisfying reviewer doesn’t get to be the only voice heard about a given production. I am thrilled to see the audience there every night, completely denying the distractions, sitting forward in their seats, hanging on every word.
Read the review by Sean Fuentes at Austin Theatre Review