“Could I get a program, please?”
You can feel the bafflement percolating in the audience when ushers have nothing to give out before a performance in New York. We theatergoers have gotten used to the fact that some shows don’t want us getting our paws on a playbill until afterward — they don’t want us distracted, maybe, or a surprise spoiled — but the new twist is no program at all.
At least not one we can hold in our hands.
Often, they want us to go online to read a digital version — a money-saving move, surely, but one that shortchanges artists and audiences alike.
That lovely Palestinian actor, Khalifa Natour, who starred in “Grey Rock” at La MaMa in early January? I’d have loved to glance down at a piece of paper that evening and find out that he’d been in the movie “The Band’s Visit,” which I adored. But that fact was in the program, and the program was online.
I don’t mean to pick on La MaMa. Going digital has become such a trend Off and Off Off Broadway that I’m no longer surprised to be directed to a theater’s website if I want to know whose work I’m seeing. It’s not just a wrongheaded tack, though. It’s also counterintuitive, because it’s contrary to the spirit of live performance.
Theater is one of our most intimate art forms, one that asks us to step away from the outside world and — this sounds like yoga talk, but it’s valid anyway — be present for a while, our attention on what’s unfolding in the room.
But any information you access on a phone or tablet exists in a space that lets the whole restless world in, coming at you in a calm-shattering barrage of text messages, emails and news alerts. A digital program doesn’t stand a chance of holding someone’s attention against all that. It’s not a great place to send people to think about the art and artists they’ve just seen.
And an e-playbill, unlike a printed one, won’t ease anyone into the experience of seeing a show, acclimating them as surely as an overture would. If that sounds like an exaggeration, think about how focused you feel reading a physical book or newspaper, and how relentlessly interrupted when your eyes are on a digital device.
I don’t say that as a Luddite; I’m writing this on a digital device. It’s not that I’m unconcerned with saving trees, either, or unaware of the punishing economics of nonprofit theater.
[How do you feel about digital playbills? Do you save your paper programs? Please tell us in the comments.]
But theaters have been alert for a long time to their need to compete for an audience that has a jillion other ways to spend its time. That’s part of the reason they devote such resources to engagement, with all the pre- and post-show programming, and all the fun extras that they put online.
Programs, though, aren’t extras; never mind what the British have decided, with their practice of charging for them. They’re essentials that help spectators navigate the production and process it afterward. (That’s why those one-sheet playbills can be so frustrating, with their frequent lack of bios and other crucial information.)
My youngest brother, who is in his 20s, isn’t a habitual theatergoer, at least not yet. But when he goes with me to a show, he sits down and opens his program right up, reading it to see which actors he knows and what the director might have to say. He peruses the ads for other shows, too, in case any of them appeal.
So it’s not just the oldsters who like a good paper program, though they can be downright poignant in their dismay when they don’t get one. Recently at Classic Stage Company, a good chunk of the row behind me went all aflutter when they thought for a moment that someone sitting nearby had printed out the online program.
I’m sure that wasn’t the effect Classic Stage intended. But when a theater bypasses paper playbills, it is outsourcing a job to its audience members — saying that if they want to know more, that’s on them. Why do that to people who’ve already proved their curiosity by their presence? If they don’t want to take the thing home, they can always give it back.
I’m not a program hoarder, either, actually; I hang onto all of them for a while, then keep the ones that mean the most to me. I find it comforting — and useful — that Playbill, the company, has an archive of its programs online, and that digitization is preserving other programs from long ago. But that’s for history. In the moment, I want that tangible souvenir.
When I admire something I’ve seen onstage, I often spend my subway ride home scouring the artists’ bios, my paper program in full view of fellow riders — advertising that doubles, sometimes, as a conversation starter. But honestly (and I’m talking here about shows I’m not writing about), if the onus is on me to track that information down, there’s an excellent chance I won’t do it. When I turn on my phone, I’ll probably use it to read the news.
Program-wise it seems lately that many theaters — whether they use e-playbills or not — are moving boldly in a direction to which the audience is meant to adjust. So it was heartening at the Public Theater’s Under the Radar festival to see an about-face midstream.
Early in the run, ushers politely told theatergoers that if they wanted a festival program, they could find one in the first-floor lobby — not the most helpful response if you’re two stories up at the time, and stymieing given the scarcity of booklets down there. (My personal quest to get one took two days.) Later in the festival, though, ushers would hand one right to you. Progress!
Still, after that, I caught myself feeling relieved at the Prototype Festival to be given a program with my ticket. And I was completely charmed by the buoyant young usher at “Colin Quinn: Red State Blue State” who greeted each person with: “Would you like some programs?” Plural.
The most sensible approach I’ve seen recently on the playbill front was at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, where when I arrived for “Lewiston/Clarkston,” the box office offered a choice: Printed program, e-program or both?
I went with printed, of course, and what I got was nothing fancy — just a sheaf of pages stapled together. But, riffling through them, I found everything I needed.B:
【东】【泉】【看】【着】【莫】【樱】【的】【眼】【神】【中】【充】【满】【了】【厌】【恶】【和】【愤】【恨】，【他】【从】【没】【想】【过】【她】【竟】【然】【会】【如】【此】【恶】【毒】。 “【莫】【樱】，【在】【师】【门】【的】【时】【候】，【我】【自】【问】【待】【你】【不】【薄】，【你】【又】【何】【必】【强】【求】【于】【我】？” “【东】【泉】，【你】【想】【救】【她】？【哈】【哈】【哈】，【不】【可】【能】【的】，【你】【听】【啊】，【外】【面】【铁】【骑】【的】【声】【音】【正】【在】【慢】【慢】【靠】【近】，【都】【是】【来】【抓】【你】【们】【的】。”【莫】【樱】【笑】【得】【十】【分】【狰】【狞】，【她】【得】【不】【到】【的】【不】【如】【全】【部】【都】【毁】【了】。 【东】【泉】
【姬】【永】【昌】【告】【诉】【张】【晓】【儒】【一】【个】【消】【息】，【阎】【老】【西】【已】【经】【将】【原】【骑】【兵】【第】【二】【师】，【收】【编】【为】【新】【编】【第】【二】【军】。【阎】【老】【西】【给】【了】【姬】【永】【昌】【一】【个】【师】【长】【的】【头】【衔】，【这】【让】【他】【既】【兴】【奋】【又】【发】【愁】。 【兴】【奋】【的】【是】，【自】【己】【一】【回】【到】【国】【军】，【马】【上】【就】【升】【职】，【团】【长】【升】【到】【师】【长】，【至】【少】【得】【是】【个】【少】【将】【啊】。 【可】【是】，【发】【愁】【的】【是】，【他】【手】【里】【只】【剩】【下】【一】【个】【营】【了】。【三】【个】【营】【的】【编】【制】【倒】【还】【在】，【但】【士】【兵】【加】【起】【来】，【只】东方心经ab【对】【这】【个】【女】【儿】，【沈】【承】【远】【一】【直】【都】【觉】【得】【有】【所】【亏】【欠】【的】。 【当】【初】【将】【她】【带】【到】【边】【塞】【去】，【也】【是】【记】【挂】【着】【她】【没】【有】【母】【亲】【在】【身】【边】，【不】【想】【她】【连】【父】【亲】【也】【没】【有】。 【可】【惜】【到】【底】【顾】【念】【着】【她】【的】【前】【程】，【没】【到】【五】【岁】【便】【又】【将】【她】【送】【了】【回】【来】。 【本】【是】【想】【着】【为】【了】【她】【好】，【没】【曾】【想】【如】【今】【回】【来】【了】，【才】【知】【晓】，【便】【是】【因】【着】【自】【己】【的】【逃】【避】。 【才】【让】【自】【家】【女】【儿】，【小】【小】【年】【纪】【便】【在】【林】【玥】【茹】【那】【个】
【次】【日】，【戚】【岚】【上】【将】【亲】【自】【来】【了】【一】【趟】【翡】【竹】【星】，【中】【午】【一】【过】【就】【走】【了】。【在】【炽】【星】【作】【战】【的】【几】【支】【精】【锐】【奉】【命】【驻】【扎】【翡】【竹】【星】，【几】【方】【势】【力】【分】【权】【管】【理】【翡】【竹】【星】。 【之】【后】【翡】【竹】【星】【热】【闹】【起】【来】，【一】【些】【炙】【皇】【星】【驻】【军】【军】【人】【近】【水】【楼】【台】【先】【得】【月】，【纷】【纷】【在】【翡】【竹】【星】【建】【房】【居】【住】，【一】【些】【家】【属】【随】【之】【而】【来】。 【翡】【竹】【星】【是】【众】【多】【帝】【国】【星】【球】【当】【中】，【居】【住】【环】【境】【最】【好】【的】【星】【球】【之】【一】，【之】【前】【危】【险】【等】【级】
【小】【助】【理】【再】【次】【被】【吓】【了】【一】【跳】，【倒】【吸】【了】【一】【口】【凉】【气】。 【似】【乎】【是】【没】【有】【想】【到】，【云】【臻】【发】【起】【脾】【气】【来】，【竟】【然】【也】【这】【么】【可】【怕】。 “【就】【是】【因】【为】【坚】【守】【传】【统】，【墨】【守】【成】【规】，【云】【氏】【集】【团】【差】【点】【儿】【被】【覆】【灭】，【新】【式】【营】【销】【帮】【助】【云】【氏】【起】【死】【回】【生】，【他】【们】【难】【道】【不】【清】【楚】？” 【云】【臻】【气】【得】【太】【阳】【穴】【突】【突】【直】【跳】，【脸】【色】【也】【不】【太】【好】【看】。 【原】【本】【以】【为】【云】【氏】【终】【于】【在】【风】【雨】【飘】【摇】【中】【站】【稳】【了】【脚】