Receiving a Playbill as you enter the Theater is not only expected… it is tradition! The small pamphlet or Program of informative goodies includes details on the presentation along with the Director, Cast and Crew. Biographies and interesting tid bits that serve as a prelude to the unfolding story is a custom read before and after the play. This has been practiced since the mid Eighteenth Century. Without printing options, Theaters had a few smaller pages on which they hand wrote a scarcity of notes. Playbills evolved into the latter Eighteenth into the Nineteenth Century. More information was given, and the biographies began.
The New Pages of a Playbill
Theater goers became a community selecting their favorite Actors and Actresses and planning their Theatrical itinerary in advance. Programs were handed out diligently in anticipation of the show. In modern times, patrons continue to look forward to reviewing the playbill as they take their seats. Interestingly, this Theater tradition may be drifting away after nearly two hundred years. The world around us have effectively adapted to a greener way of living. In effort to conserve, paper is at the top of the list of items. This would also include the fame of the playbill. Various theaters have transferred their program habits to an online source. This allows the audience to access the information from their computer or smartphone.
Those who have a love for the Arts support an eco-friendly environment as much as the next guy, however what happens to the Theater experience as a whole?
Live performances echo a nostalgic period before media and television took over our living rooms. The Theater represents hidden treasures, books that come to life and talents that meet the stage. A legacy of pearls and balconies are intrinsically woven within the Playbill. The question being asked is can the tradition of Playbills survive an online transition? The informative pages remain the same if not more direct. Links and added backgrounds are contributed alongside the same options to see the season, purchase tickets and get directions as needed. There is no doubt technology has redefined convenience, yet there may be somethings we would rather historically in place.
Keeping Playbill Tradition
To some, the Playbills are symbolic of simpler times. It is a part of the experience that cannot be recreated with an online application. The process is evolving quickly with only a couple of alternatives.
Option at the Door – Theaters can offer the option at the door of a printed version of the playbill, access to the online address or a decline of the program altogether. This would greatly reduce the number of printouts and continue the custom for those who would like one.
Adding a Print Option on the Page – This feature would allow users to decide to read the Program online or Print it themselves. It does detract from the originality of the scenario, however, would still be a good read on the way to the Theater or over a cup of coffee.