One year ago Jonathan Winn spearheaded a project he thought might help change the face of L.A. theatre audiences or, rather, encourage more faces to appear. Inspired by a theatre ticket deal he saw while visiting Vancouver, he started Play7, a program that allowed theatregoers to see seven shows at any participating theatres for $77. Over the past year the program has been a success, selling 460 passes. It doesn't hurt that the list of member theatre companies reads like a who's who of hip L.A. companies. Now, Winn has announced that the Play7 roster is getting bigger and the deal sweeter.
The original list of founding companies includes Circle X Theatre Co., Ensemble Studio Theatre/L.A., Furious Theatre Company, Greenway Arts Alliance, Lodestone Theatre Ensemble, Mark Taper Forum's Taper Too, The Met Theatre, Open Fist Theatre Company, Padua Playwrights, The Robey Theatre Company, Sacred Fools Theater Company, Theatre of Note, Ziggurat Theatre Ensemble, and Zoo District.
Newly added participants are Meadows Basement, Moving Arts, Powerhouse Theatre, Son of Semele Theatre Ensemble, Syzygy Theatre Group, Theatre Neo, and Towne Street Theatre.
Winn explained what they look for when adding new companies into the mix. "We want to feel comfortable that they have a similar approach--not really artistically, though we do look for high quality productions--but we also look for people who have a real commitment to outstanding customer service, because we think that is as important if not more as the artistic output," said Winn. He anticipates more companies will be added during 2004.
Passes will now go for an initial price of $27, which will allow pass holders to pay $7 admission to see as many plays as they want for a year. Play7 pass holders can view the regularly updated website (www.play7.com), which lists all participating companies, shows, and available dates. Individual companies decide which productions and dates are available.
"Our goal is really to create a segment of the population that is a real theatre enthusiast," said Winn. "We all talk at length about what it is that makes us want to do theatre. And it's really very akin to what it is that makes people want to see it, and it's these moments of transcendence. I think about what it is that I ever wanted to do this crazy, unlikely thing, and it's about those moments that you sit in the theatre, or are performing in the theatre, and you transcend your own experience. And we're not doing this for nothing; we really want to share it with people."
Play7 passes can be purchased on the site at www.play7.com, or by phone at (323) 960-7772. Additional information about the pass, member theatres, and PLAY7 can also be obtained on the site or by phone.