Marketing Shakespeare

Shakespeare Unlimited: Episode 88

Getting theater audiences interested in Romeo and Juliet might be easy. But what about less familiar Shakespeare plays like Timon of Athens? This episode of the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast offers an insider’s take on the challenges of marketing and promotion at America’s Shakespeare festivals and theaters.

Our guests are Katie Perkowski, Director of Marketing at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery, Alabama; Jeff Fickes, who is Communications Director at the Seattle Shakespeare Company; and Emma Corey, Director of Marketing and Communications at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival in Garrison, New York. All three are part of the Folger’s Theater Partnership Program. They are interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

Listen on iTunes, Google Play, SoundCloud, or NPR One.

From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast series. Published January 9, 2018. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “There is the Playhouse Now, There Must You Sit” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster and Esther Ferington. Esther French is the web producer. We had production help from Kyle Gassiott at Troy Public Radio; Tim Meinig at KUOW in Seattle; Rob Chacon at WAMC radio in Albany; and Andrew Feliciano and Paul Luke at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California. We also want to thank Teri Schaller at Mile High Transcripts, and special thanks to Peter Eramo, Events Publicity and Marketing Manager for Folger Theatre, for helping us know what questions to ask.

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MICHAEL WITMORE: In the 16th century, it was a lot easier to get people to show up at the theater.

[CLIP from Will]

JAMES BURBAGE: Leave us now and come again tomorrow. And free beer in the courtyard!


WITMORE: These days though, not so much. From the Folger Shakespeare Library, this is Shakespeare Unlimited. I’m Michael Witmore, the Folger’s Director. Marketing Shakespeare’s plays and putting bodies into theater seats to watch them today, you have to fight with: people working long hours …. the cost of parking and babysitters …. competition from binge-watching TV, or just sitting home and staring at your phone. Compare that with Shakespeare’s day. What did they have, The Plague? It’s nothing in comparison.

To be serious, though, there are special challenges for the people in charge of marketing and promotion at America’s Shakespeare festivals and theaters. And because Shakespeare still lives – to a large extent – on stage, we thought it was important – and that it might be helpful – to have some of them in to talk about those challenges and how they meet them. We reached out to the marketing directors at several Shakespeare theaters and festivals and invited in three who agreed to talk to us — Katie Perkowski, Director of Marketing at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery, Alabama; Jeff Fickes, who is Communications Director at the Seattle Shakespeare Company; and Emma Corey, Director of Marketing and Communications at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival in Garrison, New York. All three are part of the Folger’s Theater Partnership Program. We call this podcast, and yes, it is a quotation from Shakespeare, “There is the Playhouse Now, There Must You Sit.” Katie, Jeff, and Emma are interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.


BARBARA BOGAEV: Well, Katie the idea for this podcast came out of a conversation you had with our producer about how so many Shakespeare theaters seem to be doing non-Shakespeare plays. And you folks at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival have The Glass Menagerie and Annie in your current season. So, what's the thinking behind that for you?

KATIE PERKOWSKI: So, the conversation actually initiated around Disney musicals, which is kind of its own phenomenon. And, it's really about getting people in the door. Disney is so nice because all the marketing is done for you. [LAUGH] There's no hook. The hook is already there. It's Disney and everybody just wants to come.

BOGAEV: Right. So, you're in a piggy-backing situation, which is useful.

PERKOWSKI: That's right. So, you know, you get a Disney musical and you sell it out; and suddenly you have a pool of 30,000 people that you can just market to. And, they've been in your space, they've experienced your production values. So, it kind of makes the Shakespeare an easier follow-on sell.

BOGAEV: So, you get people in the door, and then what? You start talking to them about Shakespeare.

PERKOWSKI: Absolutely. And, you know, sometimes there are gateways when you're using actors that you use again and again. So, that, you know, you can say, "Well, you saw him as the Dad in Little Mermaid; and now he's going to be King Lear." [LAUGH] And you know that you liked him when you saw him before. So... why not give this King Lear fellow a try? [LAUGH]

BOGAEV: Right. And is it as basic as having Shakespeare everywhere, like a giant statue of Shakespeare in your lobby?

PERKOWSKI: Yes. We do have a giant Shakespeare statue in our lobby and a tremendous cultural park. We have a Shakespeare Garden. So, you can't really miss the Shakespeare. [LAUGH] So, yeah, just getting people in the door is really important for us.

BOGAEV: Well, Jeff, you're in Seattle, and that's a very different kind of market from Katie. What's your theater's attitude about this balance between Shakespeare versus non-Shakespeare plays?

JEFF FICKES: Well, our theater, when it was originally founded was about Shakespeare and the classics. Moliére, we also present Shaw, we've got a Gogol play up right now. And so, it is always been part of our mix to have non-Shakespeare. We have to bring in audiences, and we have to make money; but we're also in a city where there's a lot of other choices. So, some of those Disney musicals are actually being done at a musical theater in town. So, what we try to find is a unique niche for us, and try to present the classics in a really accessible, clear way that resonates with the contemporary audience.

BOGAEV: So that sounds as if it's both an aesthetic-artistic decision, and a marketing consideration.

FICKES: I would say that it is a little bit of both. But, I think that it's the marketing that picks up on what the aesthetic decision is. I can't market clear, accessible productions of the classics if we aren't actually presenting clear, accessible productions of the classics. And it is rare for us to do a play that has sort of an Elizabethan look and feel to it. Most of our productions are going to have some sort of angle to them that is going to, I think, make you look at the play differently. The creative nature of what we are putting on stage is, again, trying to reach an audience, saying: "Hey, like, this isn't the way that you may have learned about Shakespeare or the classics, but we're presenting it in a way that makes it feel very contemporary and very now."

BOGAEV: How about you, Emma? When you try to pull new bodies into the theater, who are you targeting?

EMMA COREY: I think that has a lot to do with the productions that we're mounting. So, for example, this summer we had a wonderful season. We were able to produce the world premiere of Kate Hamill's Pride and Prejudice. Because of the great interest in Jane Austen, you know, that was a natural fit for literary audiences to pull them in to see Pride and Prejudice. Last season we also produced a show called The General from America, which is a Richard Nelson play. And that was about a lot of very hyper, hyperlocal… Revolutionary War history about Benedict Arnold. And because of that Revolutionary War history happening right where our theater is situated, we had a lot of local history buffs who were interested, a lot of military audiences who were interested. And so, I find that it's easiest to think about specific interest groups to target based on each production. Something like a Disney show would not work under our tent because it's not connected to the place of the Hudson Valley, and I think that really, really guides a lot of our marketing decisions.

BOGAEV: And how exactly do you reach out to these very specific niche audiences?

COREY: We find that a lot of our best marketing is word of mouth. As much firepower as we want to put behind digital marketing, or print advertising, or improving our website, or what have you—all of that is important, but we still find that the day-to-day interactions that our local community members are having in the grocery store or in civic groups that they visit... if somebody has seen a production that they loved under our tent, they will rave about it. We have very dedicated, committed, enthusiastic audiences. So, we have to pay a lot of attention to our local audiences, and that's just about working with businesses, community leaders, and putting up promotions in stores, and appearing at community events. We still do a lot of hitting the pavement with farmer's markets, and going to local festivals, and just being present, and being visible within those local communities.

BOGAEV: Well, Katie, how does this work for you? And who are you targeting? Are you looking for the kind of people who would like Shakespeare if they would just try it, or people who do like Shakespeare but haven't thought to try it yet? Or, are you looking for people who think they don't like Shakespeare and just need to be convinced to try it? And I guess there is a fourth category that occurs to me that people who like performances of any kind, and might even throw in for Shakespeare?

PERKOWSKI: The answer to all of that is, yes. [LAUGH] Basically.

BOGAEV: Everybody. Everybody is up for grabs!

PERKOWSKI: But there are different ways to approach those very different groups. And, I think we're in the same place as Hudson Valley when it comes to the word of mouth factor, which of course you can back up digitally. You can back up with social media, but it's really, people come to theatre because their friends come to theatre. In terms of reaching people who are into theatre, people who are not into theatre, et cetera, there are several different avenues that we deploy. On our campus we do some big community events. For example, you know, coming up in a few weeks here, I have a community tree lighting. We do all sorts of things: community performances, free carriage rides in the park, community vendors who are just set up and giving out samples so that everything is free, free, free. We open up our theater, we have the set on stage. It is built on a revolving stage, so we have the revolve going with like mannequins and costume. It's just an opportunity for everybody to kind of inhabit our space because any theater, whether it is a Shakespeare theater or not, nowadays, is something of a community center.

BOGAEV: Jeff, how do you think about this? And I am particularly interested if you think of Shakespeare as being a good gateway play. I mean, is Shakespeare the thing that can draw people in the door or are you always thinking of the roundabout?

FICKES: I think that Shakespeare can be a gateway. And what we find is that because so many students are studying it in school, it becomes the family activity. A student is going to get something out of it because they've been studying it in school, and they're bringing along their parents. So, what we're frequently seeing is that people are attending as a group or as a family, rather than in pairs. We have a little bit of a unique model in that we do both indoor and outdoor shows. We do five shows indoors, and then we do two shows that perform in parks throughout the region, and those two shows are free. So, in a sense, it's kind of our free sample. What we're able to do is say to folks, "Hey, like, come see one of our shows. It will likely be at a park near you, and bring your kids. If the kids don't like it, there is usually some sort of playground nearby. If you don't like it; no harm, no foul. Like, get up, walk away; it's free." And then...

BOGAEV: You did mention though, that kids study it in school.


BOGAEV: Can there be that downside, to that; that they are either associated with, you know, homework, with the thing that they have to do?

FICKES: I think that some kids. I mean, somebody is also going to react to math that way. [LAUGH] But, what we also strive to do is to make Shakespeare active. So, how to get kids up and active with the verse and the text, to teach them about Elizabethan dance and how that integrates into the show, to teach them about fights. And not everybody has teaching artists out in the schools that can do that, but we really try to sort of make that connection for students and for teachers.

BOGAEV: Katie, I want to follow up on this idea of familiarity with Shakespeare coming from school, kind of going both ways. How has that worked in your experience with your audiences?

PERKOWSKI: Actually, I think that the students are an easier sell when it comes to Shakespeare. I don't find that kids have a hang up because they've had a boring experience. And, perhaps, it's because the kids that I encounter have seen what's going on on our stage, and they get excited by it. It's more the adults who have seen the boring Shakespeare, or a lot of times, "Well, I've seen that play." So, I think there is more education that needs to go on there, because theatre is so dynamic and its productions can be so different. And you can take away so much from a different production of the same play. But adults will kind of get into this, "Well, I've seen that play." [LAUGH] “I'm done.”

BOGAEV: Well, I want to ask all of you about really, probably, the hardest part of your job, which is how to turn your single ticket buyers into subscribers. And, why don't we start with you, Jeff?

FICKES: That is a big challenge. And it's a big challenge in a city where there are lots of different opportunities for you to see theatre.

BOGAEV: In Seattle?

FICKES: In Seattle. So, what we really have been working at is starting to build a relationship with a patron.

BOGAEV: How do you reach out?

FICKES: Well, we're reaching out with e-mail, following up with some direct mail to them, trying to essentially tailor our message to them, rather than making them feel like they are sort of one of, you know, a mass of folks that we are trying to reach out to. Not trying to reach too high, and say like: "Hey, like, you've attended only two times; here, buy this five-play package." And, so it's a matter of taking in the data that we have about people and where they've come in. Have they come in on a discount? Have they come in on a third-party ticket seller purchase? And look at a way that we might continue to develop that relationship over time. So, it's a matter of, "Okay, maybe you will come back next year." You know, "And here's a little bit of a discount offer." So, that's kind of the way we have been working it.

BOGAEV: Emma, is that the kind of data that you are dealing with?

COREY: Absolutely. The one thing that we have been really, really focused on in the past year and going into the next few seasons is about improving the overall audience experience. For those who haven't been to Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, it's this incredible—well, I can say it is incredible because I love it so much—beautiful, beautiful estate where we present, which has the most beautiful view of the Hudson River that you've ever seen. So, all of that is integral into making sure that folks are having the best possible experience and that the experience that they have is memorable and personally impressive enough that they feel compelled to come back. And because we have about 35-40,000 people attending, but only say 8,000 ticket buyers in a season, there are a lot of folks that we don't have data on. And so, we're trying to make the most striking impression that we can.

BOGAEV: So, that is only in the experience, but how do you follow up on that? How do you perform that, or what's the plan for the conversion from visiting once to coming back again?

COREY: Right. Well, again, you know with those ticket buyer folks that we have, they tend to buy more than one show in a season, which is wonderful. In terms, of the actual attendees, folks who are coming as guests, because we do have large groups that attend or family groups, we haven't quite cracked that nut yet, and I hope in the next few seasons that we can start to put in place some sort of survey to collect information about those folks to then retarget to them. You know, we are looking a lot at “look alike” audiences on Facebook, and, you know, friends of fans of Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. So, people who have liked Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival on Facebook, their friends can then receive this messaging. So we are definitely focusing a lot on digital media as a way to access those people who don't necessarily have a very compelling connection to [us], you know, they are not subscribed to our e-newsletter, or they haven't purchased tickets themselves, or what have you.

BOGAEV: Well, Katie, you don't have the alluring, outside Shakespeare festival draw, so how do you think about turning the single ticket buyer into a subscriber in Alabama?

PERKOWSKI: So, I think the first thing is being realistic about what subscription packages should look like now. You know, if I have 12 titles in my season, do I really think that I am going to get people who are coming to all 12? Those are hard...

BOGAEV: Do you have that ramp up? Like, you could get three tickets for a discount or five tickets for a discount?

PERKOWSKI: Correct. And that’s what I do. I package things differently. I have a family package that is only three or four titles. I have a flex package that's five. You know, I have a full-season subscription that I actually call eight titles, and then I do the others as add-ons. People are busy. And I also think what we're seeing more and more of now, particularly with the millennials coming up, is that people aren't the consumers that they were back in the day when you, you know, had your opera subscription, or your symphony subscription, or your theatre subscription. Now, people are more inclined to just think of themselves as a cultural consumer and hit the ballet a few times a year and hit the theater a few times a year. I also think that to some degree, subscriptions... Back in the day, the idea was that you get your subscribers in the house and then you don't have to spend the money marketing. Right? You've got the sure thing; you've got your built audience. It also frees up your artistic director to make some more expansive choices because you've got your audience locked-in, etcetera, etcetera. I think that those days, to some degree, are gone. And now what we have is a built audience through social media, and digital, and email marketing, that we can still reach without spending the marketing dollars because we have captured them to a degree. But they will only be participating in a few things in the season, and that's all right.

BOGAEV: I can see that would be really challenging. I want to follow up with you, Jeff, on that because now, I think, we're talking not only about social media being so dominant, but also, how do you reach a younger audience that is more fluent in social media? And, when you look at a lot of the established classical theatre performance, like opera or classical theatre, and outlets like PBS and NPR, they are all facing this problem of the graying of their audience, and finding it so challenging to draw younger subscribers. And, I am thinking here in Los Angeles we have a really young and very inspiring example in a young director of an opera company, Yuval Sharon, with The Industry. And he's just won a MacArthur Genius Award this year. He's staged operas at the main train station, and in a fleet of cars, and he's had record ticket sales and drawn these large crowds from a younger demographic. So, I am wondering, how do you think about this challenge, or how much of a challenge is an aging audience for you in Seattle? And what kind of special efforts are you making to attract younger people?

FICKES: I had a board member who brought up the very concern that you’re talking about. Like, how do we reach out to millennials? Oddly enough, I had, you know, a handful of millennials in the room that were working for the company, and kind of felt offended that they were sort of lumped into this category of always on their phones, never paying attention. You know, there was just a lot of clichés that he was sort of tossing around. I went in and looked at the data. And saw, okay, "Who is coming to our website?" And when I saw that the 18 to 25 category, who are accessing our site, was really, really high. Well, I thought, "This actually isn't a huge problem." It's the conversion then, to how to get them to purchase a ticket. So, that's the next step. And we've set up some entry points to be able to do that. We have a program called our groundling program, which is essentially a rushed ticket. So, for ten dollars you can come in on the day of the show and see it like you would a movie. So, it's a way to sort of capture that information about that individual and then continue to talk to them.

BOGAEV: Emma, how do you think about a younger demographic? Is that much of a challenge for you in the Hudson Valley?

COREY: It is and it isn't. We recently started a program a few years ago, a grant-funded program that was called, the Revelers and the Teen Revelers. And Teen Revelers, the age group is 16 to 19. Revelers, the age group is 20 to 35. And, I think what we have discovered just on some limited surveying that we've done of those program members is that folks are just looking for—they're not looking for, you know, forced social interaction, which is what a lot of, I think, theatre companies and other art companies are trying to do. They don't—you know, just like you might take your significant other or a group of friends to the theatre, that is what they are looking to do too. They are not looking to be forced into, you know, a group of new friends to meet. And so, we have tried to be responsive to that and to just message to those folks as we would message to anyone else in our audience group. We have also found that alcohol can be a good option, not for our teen group obviously. But, just using things like open bars and offering a free glass of wine or free glass of beer.

BOGAEV: Right, the wine and cheese reception, and the happy hour.

COREY: Right. Exactly. That you can bring your friends and family to this, or your significant other, but we're not going to force you into a room with a bunch of strangers you haven't met to have a drink with.

BOGAEV: And, Katie, I have noticed that you've recently hired a young artistic director. Was that very self-consciously directed at pulling in a younger audience?

PERKOWSKI: I think it was really just his personal energy and dynamic qualities that really put that hire into place. But, I think that we will benefit from his youth. I was going to add, in terms, of the wine and cheese bringing the millennials out. We did a Shakes-Beer Garden- [LAUGH]

BOGAEV: [OVERLAP] Cute, cute!

PERKOWSKI: … that worked out really well. A lot of like artisanal, like, craft brews type of thing.

BOGAEV: So, jumping on zeitgeisty stuff?

PERKOWSKI: Yeah, definitely. I wanted to just add something to this conversation about millennials because I am a parent. I have two boys who are five and nine. And, I think, it’s important that you not leave that portion of the demographic out of your mix, who are people with families who, for a while, aren't going to come to your theater if you don't have, you know, theatre for the young on the table. And, keeping them engaged with the theater by doing other things that they can come to. You know, there's this place where you will lose audience that can come back to you later if you keep them in your mix, if you keep them in your thoughts, and keep them engaged in some way.

BOGAEV: Yeah, that is a really good point. I mean, my kids, their first entry to Shakespeare was at Shakespeare in the Park. Free performances, and it was just part of a fun picnic. It was a great entry.

PERKOWSKI: Right. So, the theatre becomes part of what you do as a family.

BOGAEV: I want to take a step back now and look at this whole category of live theatre. Just how popular is live theatre in the scheme of entertainment right now? This idea of the shared experience out in the real world, whether it is sitting together in the dark of a theater or at a festival outside. Are audiences really hungry for that now?

FICKES: I think that they are. We find, and I want to reiterate what Katie was talking about, if we are able to create an experience that is about creating great memories for individuals and for families, people will continue to return. It's...

BOGAEV: So, you're seeing this in the data?

FICKES: We're seeing this in the data. We're seeing this in- I just spent some time at a digital marketing bootcamp, where this was one of the number one things that people talked about as a reason for attending the theatre. It was the shared experience together with friends and family.

BOGAEV: Emma, what is your experience in the Hudson Valley? Is live performance really having a moment? Is it in? Is it out?

COREY: I don't think it had ever gone away or will ever go away. You know, I don't see it as a thing that is “in” right now. I just think it's part of our DNA in the Hudson Valley. And I think it's kind of a blessing.

BOGAEV: A really big overarching question in this conversation is whether marketing Shakespeare is different than marketing a theatre experience that isn't Shakespeare, that isn't as specialized. And, Katie, you mentioned earlier you've market Disney musicals. So, I know you must have a standard for comparison.

PERKOWSKI: I sure do. You know, the most successful campaigns I've run in marketing Shakespeare, I have hooked the title to something in the zeitgeist. Game of Thrones was huge when we were doing King Lear. So, I hooked into that and kind of rode that marketing wave with the idea of, you know, experiencing the fall of a dynasty, and, luckily, the production kind of fit the look of Game of Thrones. So, I had lots of gorgeous images, and video, and things that really just kind of cemented that idea. So, it was easy to sell something that was already in the imaginations of my audience. Otherwise, it can be difficult to- because, you're building everything from the ground up. You're building, like, the, "Why should I come see this? What's in it for me? What's the story about?" You know, if you're trying to market a Timon of Athens, for example... [LAUGH]

BOGAEV: Good luck.

PERKOWSKI: There is just a lot more work to be done.

BOGAEV: Yeah, that is heavy lifting, right?

PERKOWSKI: Yeah, definitely.

BOGAEV: Jeff, you want to jump in here?

FICKES: As someone who's about to go into marketing Timon of Athens...

PERKOWSKI: Oh, I’m sorry!


PERKOWSKI: No hard feelings.

BOGAEV: Condolences.

FICKES: Yeah. There are definitely challenges. And when we start to talk about, you know, a Midsummer versus a Timon of Athens, the tactics that you are using are a little bit different. They are both written by Shakespeare, but very, very different plays. So, that is the way we start to treat it, that it is not about necessarily marketing Shakespeare, but it is marketing this particular play. What are the themes in this play? Is there something that is being done differently about this play?

BOGAEV: Sure, you can get very specific, but that can be a very slippery slope, right? Because if you are a general interest theater, you can always reach back and, you know, hit the audience with one of the old faithfuls like Death of a Salesman or Guys and Dolls again, throw that out there. I would think that you get this temptation to do that with Shakespeare though. You know, pressure to do a Romeo and Juliet every year.

FICKES: I think there's always a pressure to find the balance of some things that are going to be a little more challenging for, I want to say, the super fans, as well as something that's going to be an entry point for somebody who is relatively new to your organization. And that's the job of the artistic director, to start to strike that balance. And, I have to come up with a forecast on what the sales might be on those particular shows. And if we find that the sales mix isn't going to reach what we need it to be, we may look at reconsidering what that play mix might be and drop something out, and drop something else in.

BOGAEV: Right. And that's the challenge of the data. But for instance, do people come back because they have seen, say, one play like A Midsummer Night's Dream and they like seeing it multiple times? You know, would you want to put that on every year for four years? And will that draw in people who are interested in this repeat and familiar experience?

FICKES: I don't think that we would see that. We know that there are plays that people frequently want to see, and then it is, well, how do you then honor the folks that are tried and true, have been with you for a long time, and have not seen Timon of Athens, have not seen the Henry VI plays? How do you bring those in as well as make those particular plays accessible for somebody who might be attending you for the very first time?

BOGAEV: Emma, how do you think about this issue pulling out the “old faithful” plays?

COREY: Well, we have had for a number of years a sort of tried and true equation of, you know, a tent-pole Shakespeare comedy, one of the tragedies, or a history, and then a non-Shakespeare comedy. And we've been sort of building on that season after season. And because we have that flexibility to draw on titles outside of the canon, we find that we are able to package each season in a way that we can find a unifying theme that brings all of these shows together. And I think also because we are a resident company who carries the rep structure for the summer, people are excited to see an actor that they saw play, you know, King Lear in the role of Feste or something. So, we don't really feel restricted by that at all.

BOGAEV: Now that I have three marketers in my clutches, I have to ask you: what is an example of a play or production where your Artistic Director comes and says, "Well, this is what we're doing" and you think, "Oh, I just can't wait to work on that," or one that makes you go, "OMG, I do not know how we're going to sell that"? Katie, I will start with you.

PERKOWSKI: Oh. I mean, a Romeo and Juliet is super easy. But, you know, Winter's Tale, Troilus, [LAUGH] anything like that makes me pretty nervous.

BOGAEV: [OVERLAP] That would freak you out? [LAUGH]

PERKOWSKI: Yeah. And, too, I guess a big component is how soon I am going to get the vision. If there's a strong vision attached to the title that is not as strong, you can play that up and that can really move the tickets for you. But, it's having that information in front of you in a timely way, so that you can sell out to groups a year in advance. That's the key factor.

BOGAEV: So not necessarily what, but how you get the information and when.


BOGAEV: Emma, what about you? Your nightmare and your dream play?

COREY: [LAUGH] My dream plays are the ones that I instantly can call to mind a million different sort of audience interest segments. I think the trickier ones are—[SIGH] yeah, I am going to agree with Katie here. If there is a title that we have, and maybe the concept hasn't been fully formed or just takes a really long to get back to marketing… and we're talking about it in one way and really the production is going in a very different way… that’s a nightmare situation for us. [LAUGH]

BOGAEV: Jeff, do you have an example of this?

FICKES: I have to say that there has not been a play, that's been like, "Oh my God, that's the big groaner." Like, "I don't know what to do about that." And I feel really lucky in that regard. The things that have always excited me were the projects where the artists themselves were excited. We recently did a two-part adaptation of the Henry VI plays that was told with taiko drums and an all-female cast. So, I get excited by that kind of stuff. And that makes it easier to market because there is something unique and different about that experience, where you're not going to it experience again.

BOGAEV: Well, Jeff, Katie, Emma, thank you so much. It was really fun hearing you all talk about what you do every day and the ins-and-outs of it. Thank you.

PERKOWSKI: Thank you.

FICKES: Thank you, Barbara.

COREY: Thank you.


WITMORE: Katie Perkowski is Director of Marketing at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery, Alabama; Jeff Fickes is the Communications Director at the Seattle Shakespeare Company; and Emma Corey is the Director of Marketing and Communications at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival in Garrison, New York. All three theaters are part of the Folger’s Theater Partnership Program. They were interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

“There is the Playhouse Now, There Must You Sit” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster and Esther Ferington. Esther French is the web producer. We had production help from Kyle Gassiott at Troy Public Radio; Tim Meinig at KUOW in Seattle; Rob Chacon at WAMC radio in Albany; and Andrew Feliciano and Paul Luke at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California. We also want to thank Teri Schaller at Mile High Transcripts, and special thanks to Peter Eramo, Events Publicity and Marketing Manager for Folger Theatre, for helping us know what questions to ask.

If you’ve been enjoying Shakespeare Unlimited, I hope you’ll consider reviewing the podcast on whatever platform you get the podcast from. It helps us get the word out to people who haven’t heard it, people who might enjoy it. We’d really appreciate your help. Thanks.

Shakespeare Unlimited comes to you from the Folger Shakespeare Library. Home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, the Folger is dedicated to advancing knowledge and the arts. You can find more about the Folger at our website, For the Folger Shakespeare Library, I’m Folger Director Michael Witmore.