BANGOR, Maine — Penobscot Theatre Company is the first in the state to take part in a national program that gives away tickets in an effort to attract people who don’t usually attend live theater.
The program, sponsored by Theater Communications Group of New York City, will allow PTC to give away 50 seats for each performance of “State of the Union” at the Bangor Opera House during the opening week of the run. The free tickets will be for performances between Oct. 22 and 26. The show runs through Nov. 2.
“We are proud to be the first theater in Maine to include TCG’s Free Night of Theater program in our repertoire of community outreach programs,” Scott R.C. Levy, producing artistic director of PTC, said earlier this month. “It provides the opportunity for an even broader audience than we currently enjoy to be introduced to the wonderful work we present inside the historic Bangor Opera House.
“The ability to offer a substantial number of free tickets to our production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning classic comedy ‘State of the Union,’” he said, “not only benefits the theater and the individuals who make use of this program, but the entire Bangor community.”
PTC is one of 600 theaters in more than 120 cities across the country participating in the program this year, according to TCG. Introduced in 2005 as a three-city pilot program, it was designed to raise general awareness of America’s not-for-profit theaters and attract new and nontraditional audiences.
“Since the campaign’s pilot year, we have seen an extraordinary response from theaters, audiences and the whole community,” Brad Erickson, executive director of Theatre Bay Area in San Francisco, said last month. “The demand for live theater — when it’s made accessible to all — is overwhelming. We’re bringing in new audiences — young people, people of color, people from all walks of life — and the research tells us they are going back for more. Free Night of Theater has thrown the doors of our theaters open wide.”
According to research gathered about the TCG’s 2007 program, 41 percent of those who attended returned to the participating theater and purchased a ticket. Other findings showed that:
- 65 percent attended a theater they had never been to before.
- 28 percent were under age 35.
- 21 percent had less than a college degree.
- 35 percent had combined household incomes of less than $50,000.
- 28 percent were nonwhite.
TCG’s mission, according to a press release about the ticket giveaway, is to strengthen, nurture and promote the professional, not-for-profit American theater. Its initiatives include a variety of artistic, management, international and advocacy programs.
Its publications offer a national resource for reference, opinion and debate on theater and the performing arts. TCG serves nearly 500 member theaters nationwide including PTC.