Friday, October 28, 2011

Why Local is Better than Tours

When you go grocery shopping you are encouraged to buy local as it is better for the environment. It should be the same for art. Local art is greener because we don't have to fly the entire cast and crew in from god knows where to only fly them out a week later. It's not that I'm against tours completely, I have been known to book out 10 events at HKart fest. I just think that we as a community should always try and buy local before buying tour tickets.

Also, if you look at the homepage of Timeout HK, ten shows are featured as editor's picks. 8 of them are tours. How do they know the touring show is better than the local one man show? They don't. They haven't seen it and they may have seen youtube clips (of the famous world premiere cast), but other than that they have no way to judge the quality of the tour. 

If you look at HK Magazine, they make a specific choice to feature local bands and music. And yet they ignore the theatre scene for the most part unless the theatre group has bought a full page ad. Did someone at HK really need to give 3 stars to "The Hangover prt. 2" but not mention anything at last year's HK Fringe Festival? Local artists aren't even going to newspapers for reviews anymore. We know it's not going to happen unless we buy an ad. Thus we have had to come together in the digital age and rock facebook, twitter and blogs with our theatre prattles.

Here are some reasons why I think you should buy local art and why should take the time to encourage the local media to spend some time with locals artists.

1) Value
Local shows are cheaper than tours. I saw that tickets for Richard III were going for 3,000 on Asia Expat after they sold out in a week. People were being ridiculous and PAYING IT! I admit it would have been hella cool to see Kevin Spacey but I know that for a tenth of that price I can see "Midsummers" in November.

With local artists we strive to keep theatre affordable and accessible to all price points. Some shows will even offer group rates and student discounts to school groups for the matinees. Just write the producer and ask!

2) Passion
We don't get paid to our theatre here in HK. Very few troupes do profit share or per diem. Often times the producers are paying stuff out of their own pockets and the only way to make that money back is to sell, sell, sell. We love it and that's the only reason we work so hard at it. You know when you see a locally produced show here in HK it was made with love rather than the mighty dollar. That makes it better.
3) Multi-culturism
We live in a great melting pot. The great thing about our shows is you can see a myriad of accents, comedy styles, acting training and even languages in local productions. Even visual art productions and dance shows integrate different cultures into their pieces, which I feel makes them more interesting.

We get creative because we don't have money! We produce productions on the bare minimum, particularily in the set dept because most theatre companies in HK don't have storage facilities for props/costumes. You will get to see a bunch of shows produced in creative ways to get around the cost factors. This could result in interesting concepts, grotowski style staging and the use of sound and lights. It's not better than the big show of a tour, but it is just as valid of a way to tell a story.

5) Gratitude
We'll hang out with you at the bar afterward to say thanks.You won't see Kevin Spacey doing that shit.
We love a good audience, a drunk audience and everything in between!

From the art community I want to thank Phil Whelan and the crew at RTHK for always taking time to feature local artists. We really appreciate it.

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