A performing arts discussion group linked to the Spokane Arts commission met recently and has scheduled another meeting late this month for the purpose of exploring possibilities for a cooperative marketing association among local theaters (something along the lines of the biweekly "On Stage" group theater ad that has been running in, yes, *The Pacific Northwest Inlander.*
Less turf protection and more synergy is what's needed: Audience members who enjoy a performance at Theater A are more likely to be receptive to the idea of attending a show at Theater B. Graying audiences are sold on the idea of reading a newspaper and taking time to attend a live production; younger folks, not so much. They get their news online; consult Rotten Tomatoes more than they read full reviews; and they can see that video and audio on demand, right now to your iPhone/Blackberry/PDA is already, practically, upon us. What can theater offer them? They crave what's real: actors up in their faces, running through aisles and across overhead ramps; actors whisked in a moment from kitchen-sink realism to dream sequence to interactive exploration of what they just witnessed. Theater's on the edge in a way that let's-do-60-takes-and-make-it-perfect movies aren't. People of all ages enjoy watching the guy spin plates, even if the plates fall. (Bobo's ripping off MaryAnn Johanson's review of *Redbelt* in Thursday's *Inlander* here.)
So let's market theater to young people, all people -- and give 'em what they can't get from DVDs/ Wiis / CDs.