I recently did a theatre production in Hong Kong which cost 2,000 dollars to produce. I only took donations at the door and provided wine and cupcakes to the audience for extra spare change. I made a profit of 1500 dollars. Most people gave 50 to 100 dollars. We had two very generous people who gave more. It makes me think: why do some theatre shows in Hong Kong cost 300 to 400 dollars for amateur productions? Some of them are not even that good. Recently, Chicago toured through Hong Kong- it was a professional tour from australia. The cheapest tickets were 480 dollars. Why on earth would anybody pay that? I paid 250 dollars for my Lady Gaga tickets last year...
Space rentals in Hong Kong are ridiculous. If you want the McKauley theatre at the Shousan in WanChai you are going to be paying a minimum of 6,000 dollars for a 3 night run. That does not include nights the space reserves for you for tech runs, those are extra. The MK has a maximum amount of 80 people I believe, so at three nights you're going to have to charge a minimum of 200-300 a ticket just to break even if you sell half the house. And some shows don't.
The government houses are slightly cheaper, but have worse facilities and the staff are typically rude I've found. One theatre in Kowloon Tong is currently refusing to gel the top light in the theatre because it would take an hour. Bring the damn bars down and just gel the damn lights. Don't be so lazy. I'm paying 3,000 dollars for this space!
Now some theatres do not cost something. They take a cut. The Cattleyards and the Fringe Club take 30% of your ticket sales instead of charging you a flat rate. So no matter what, you can always pay them. Even if only 1 person shows up- like the infamous friday afternoon performance of Othello this past april. You can still afford have a place to do your show. Now, if you sell out- it really sucks. 30% of 17,000 dollars is a lot and it's what the fringe makes their bank on.
How did I do a show so cheap with no cash? How did I make a profit?
Easy, I used a non-traditional space. I hope this will catch on with more people in HK as the art scene develops. Theatre can be free, cheap and accessible to all. But if my production of Waiting for Godot on the MTR had anything to say about the government's feelings on the subject, then we might have to wait a little while for them to catch on.