What’s more fun than seeing a show, then getting together afterwards to mix and mingle with old friends, and have a chance to meet some new ones? That’s the idea behind OUT@BSC, a new kind of event for the Berkshires. It’s designed for the LGBTQ community, their friends and allies. For the first time in the Berkshires, a cultural organization will organize not one, but three social events specifically for the areas growing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community.
We asked Julianne Boyd, Artistic Director of Barrington Stage Company (BSC) which is planning the event if she didn’t feel rather brave and innovative doing this.
She replied simply: “It’s about time somebody did it, don’t you think?” Certainly the response to BSC’s undertaking The Laramie Project last fall as part of an Out in the Berkshires weekend helped prepare the way. That show pretty much sold out two full houses on the main stage.
“I think anyone, anywhere who is doing art needs to recognize the creative community as vital to their mission. Not to recognize the role that LGBTQ people play in that is silly. Not only are they great ticket buyers, but they are contributors, supporters, volunteers. They support the arts like nobody else. They go to theatre, they go to dance, they attend concerts, they are active and involved even if they work on a factory line, in a doctor’s office or in the building trades,” Boyd explained.
“Our OUT@BSC evenings are just trying to make it easier to find a reason to come to see us. What I have heard – a lot – from my gay friends in the Berkshires is that “I want to meet more gay people, where do I go.” (There are no gay bars in the Berkshires, an ongoing problem for the area.)
“So when you have a specific evening, it doesn’t mean they won’t come to the theatre at other times, but it’s an opportunity for gays, especially those new to the community, to meet others.”
I suggested that calling them “Out”evenings was very apt, since there is no group of ticket buyers that likes to get out more. “No question. If they stopped going to the theatre we would lose a large segment of our audience.” And if they refused to go to work one day, everyone would notice.
“Sometimes theatres refuse to acknowlege that. One of the things we are trying to do is not take it for granted, and rather, to build that audience up.”
Of the four major theatre companies in the Berkshires, BSC is clearly the most innovative from an audience development standpoint. “You’re right, it isn’t as much about catering to one set of ticket buyers, as it is part of our outreach to the huge variety of people in the Berkshires, seniors, schoolchildren, young professionals, residents and visitors alike,” Boyd added.
“We have ticket deals for 21 and under, for those 35 and under where you can come to a show for $15. Plus there is Pay What You Can which is for one night only during each show’s run. It is very popular.
“Each time we do one of these promotions we find new people seeing us for the first time. And if we’re going to find the audience of tomorrow, we’ve got to start today. We love and value our 65 and older ticket buyers, but they can not sustain us forever.
“Since we don’t know who will be the major supporters a decade from now, we have to attract people from all walks of life so they can discover us. There is hardly a major donor in the world that did not begin by buying a single ticket.
“It’s exciting to be the first in the Berkshires to see things a little differently. Our audiences like the way Barrington Stage is a risk taker, and it remains to be seen which of our innovations work well and which have to be retuned.”
OUT@BSC – The Details
OUT@BSC will take place on three Thursdays this summer. The first is July 8 with a performance of Sweeney Todd and a post show party at Jae’s Spice. It will be followed on July 29 with a performance of ART and a post-show party at One West Restaurant and Lounge at the Crowne Plaza. Rounding out the social calendar is a performance of Absurd Person Singular on August 19 with a post-show party at Flavours of Malaysia.
For these events, drinks will priced at $5 and appetizer prices will vary. All shows begin at 8:00 and the parties go until about midnight.
Those who call for tickets at 413-236-8888 can get 10% discount by mentioning OUT@BSC.