You may have noticed signs around town lately announcing Seattle Rep’s ambitious new vision: Theater at the heart of public life. But what does that mean, and why does it matter?
We believe that Seattle Rep can fashion a stronger, more unified society through the act of creating theater. Theater is a time-tested vehicle for bringing people into community with one another, both artists and audiences. At a time when so many crave personal connection, this highly collaborative art form fosters that sense of togetherness we seek.
So, for Seattle Rep, putting theater at the heart of public life means drawing on theater’s inherent nature and activating our organization as a civic resource; namely an institution that brings our community together to experience and participate in extraordinary art together.
Over the past several years, Seattle Rep has strived to bring more of our region here to experience that feeling of togetherness. We’ve produced a diverse array of compelling and relatable stories on our stages; made tickets more accessible to everyone regardless of economic means; and launched initiatives like Seattle Rep’s Public Works, which welcomes our community through our doors and onto our stage. These strategies are successfully expanding Seattle Rep’s reach and impact, with 40% audience growth over the last four seasons and more than one-third of patrons making use of ticket discounts.
But if we want folks to walk out of Seattle Rep feeling like they are part of something bigger, we must offer them a deeper level of engagement with the work and with one another. So we recently launched a new Arts Engagement department to enrich and deepen our patron’s connections to each other, our community, and the art on stage. From actor talks and panel discussions to partner events with organizations around Seattle, we are doubling the number of engagement opportunities for our audience, averaging 10 programs per production.
We are also reorienting our lobby as a curated public space for conversation, augmenting audience programs and dramaturgical displays with visual installations, listening stations, and other resources that facilitate dialogue with and about the art on stage.
And because Seattle Rep can’t be an effective civic resource if cost remains a barrier, we are radically expanding access through our Pay What You Choose program, offering more than 50 performances (six times as many as in prior seasons) for which patrons can attend for as little as $1. Our growing Mobile Box Office program will also share free tickets at partner locations across the region.
In a city driven by innovation and a nation that hungers for a sense of unity, Seattle Rep is using the ancient and enduring art of theater to revitalize the concept of public life and create a welcoming public space: Where we come to understand our community and our world in striking and beautiful ways, and imagine something better; where the topics we tackle onstage come up in conversation for days afterward; where people from all walks of life come together to watch performances created by an equally diverse group of artists; Where every aspect of the theatergoing experience is fun, social, and meaningful. Where everyone who sets foot inside knows that this place is for them.
That is Seattle Rep’s vision of theater at the heart of public life, and we hope your experience with us today and the rest of this season makes you feel like you are part of it.