Deadly Arts Marketing Cliché # 7: Shakespeare Quotes



Los Angeles, January 26, 2011: Dealing a devastating blow to the cultural community, researchers revealed today that the play is not actually the thing.  Shattering a long-held belief among arts pros, researchers at the Southern California State University announced results of a study which proves conclusively that the play, while important, is only a part of the thing, and the thing is much larger than anyone had previously imagined.

“We were surprised, too,” said Dominic Biondello, PhD., lead researcher on the project, “but our study proves that the “the thing” is the desirability of the entire evening out, and the play is a secondary consideration.” The play may once have been the thing, but for many people, especially younger entertainment seekers, Biondello’s research suggests that the thing has more to do with the totality of the experience than the play itself.

The SCSU team studied the motivations of theatregoers of varying ages and learned that older audiences tend to place primary importance on the play while relegating other components of the experience to peripheral status.  But younger audiences tend to make their leisure entertainment choices based on numerous factors including the appeal of the destination, availability of food and drink, relative value of the combined components and the extent to which the experience offers certain social rewards.

“The package is the thing,” said Biondello. “I realize this will be disappointing to the arts community, but the play could just as easily be bowling, baseball or hanging out at the local watering hole.”  He and his team refrained from reading too much into the data, but they did suggest that arts organizations might want to place added emphasis on the drinking, dining, shopping, socializing and related leisure entertainment aspects of arts event-going in order to become more attractive to non-traditional audiences.

“It’s painful,” says Wayan Boyet, Executive Dirtector of the So. Cal. Association for Arts and Culture (SCAAC).  “We were so sure the play was the thing. Shakespeare said it was and we believed it. This is going to be a bitter pill to swallow. I mean, this is something we take for granted; we say it all the time.”  A perennial favorite among amateur arts marketers, “The play’s the thing” is a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet that many assume attributes significance to plays in general, but is really just a minor plot point reiteration.

“Boy are we in trouble,” said Adrian Armado, Marketing VP for the Santa Monica Stage Company.  “We just sent out two hundred thousand season brochures that say “THE PLAY’S THE THING” across the front cover.  Now people will think we’re lying – or stupid. We all thought it looked great on the mock-ups, but now… This is terrible.  O, woe is me.”

It’s too early to tell what this reveals about Shakespearean quotes in general, but Biondello is excited about the possibilities. “We can’t say for sure at the moment, but early indications suggest that music may not actually be the food of love, and our colleagues in Brisbane are about to pull the proverbial trap door out from under the ubiquitous but unverifiable contention that the entire world is a stage.”

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Next up: “Culture”


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