You will meet a lot of people, perhaps including some of your friends, who will tell you they don’t like theatre. Sometimes these are people you’d like to take out for a great evening including a play. Perhaps you’re eager to take this person along for Great Evening #9 in our July-Sept. 2016 edition of Just the Ticket: An Insider’s Guide to Great Evenings Out in Washington, DC. What to do?
Now, we never want to challenge anyone’s personal taste or preferences. What has almost certainly happened is that this person was taken to a play or several plays at some time, and all those plays had something in common the person didn’t like. They formed a completely reasonable generalization that all plays are like that and therefore not for them.
Maybe they were dragged to a couple of Shakespeare plays and think anything they might see in a theater would be full of archaic language and men in puffy pants. Maybe they’ve only seen silly musicals or slow tragedies and never want to sample those dishes again. Jason Schlafstein, the artistic director of Flying V Theatre Company, likes to say “Theatre is an art form not a genre.” Someone can be disinterested in several genres within theatre but might enjoy others they haven’t discovered yet.
You don’t want to be combative, unless you’ve already got that kind of friendship; but it can be useful to ask them what they haven’t liked about plays they’ve seen. Listen closely to the characteristics, then ask yourself – is the play you want to invite them to like or unlike what they are describing? If you can convince yourself that it would be different, try to explain those differences to your friend. “It isn’t Shakespeare. This play was written this year and it’s a bunch of people performing live music videos.” That might get them over the hump.
Here’s the big gun. One of the best things about seeing a play together is the conversation you can have afterwards. If you tell your friend, and it really helps if you’re telling the truth here, that the reason you want him or her to see the play with you is that you really want to talk it over with them after the show, you’ve got a strong pitch. You’re communicating that the friend is special to you and that you are interested in hearing what he or she has to say. These are probably the sincere reasons you want to take this person to a play, and they’re also incredibly flattering.
Please let us know if this advice helps you get your company of choice along for a great evening by dropping us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.