If you’re anything like me, you don’t like spending your hard-earned (or fairly stolen) money on the same old thing you can get everywhere. And I’m not sure about you, but I can’t afford $150 for 2 hours of theatre. Even if I could, I’d likely use that same money for a weekend binge of DVD rentals, takeout Chinese and cheap booze.

But I still need my live theatre fix. So indie theatre is my hustler of choice. Of course, it helps that it’s awesome. If you think about it, there are tons of reasons why indie theatre (also known as off-off Broadway, indie, experimental, Equity showcase, small theatre, black box theatre or whatever term someone can cook up that means “anything but Broadway”) is just about the coolest form of entertainment around.

1. It’s cheap.

A lot of indie theatre shows cost about as much as a movie ticket. Of course, you also have tickets in the $20-$30 range. But you’ll never have to budget or save up to see something. And if you get lucky or help them out, you might even see something for free. Which gives you more money to eat food that’s way too rich and drink booze that is way too strong.

2. It’s quality theatre.

Most indie theatre shows don’t have a big budget for costumes, sets or special FX. So they have to focus on minor details like story, character and ideas. And if you’re sick of Dead White Man theatre, many indie theatre groups stage original works.

3. It’s intimate.

In a small space, you can sit inches – not feet, inches – away from the action. Of course this may be outmoded in a few years once we get complete 3-D HDTV surround-sound smell-o-vision ghost-touch films. But there’s something about being around real human bodies that our hi-tech toys can’t match.

4. It’s unique.

Where else will you find something like this? Not on Broadway, that’s for sure. It’s hard to beat indie theatre for finding stuff that really pushes the boundaries of taste and decency or completely warps our understanding of who we are. Not unless Kevin Smith and David Lynch made a movie together.

5. It never shows the same thing twice.

Indie theatre doesn’t do lame-ass revivals. Indie theatre doesn’t rehash stupid movies. Indie theatre doesn’t insult your intelligence by regurgitating the same old crap. Every indie theatre show is something new that won’t be seen again. Each show they put on is a once-in-a-lifetime event.

6. It might get you laid.

Because saying stuff like “postmodern critique of traditional permutations of masculinity” makes you sound like you’re deep and sensitive. Being deep and sensitive is a thinking person’s aphrodisiac. And if you have a drug or alcohol problem, it’s even better because then you get to be deep, sensitive and complex!

7. It’s passionate.

It’s easy to be gung-ho about theatre when you’re able to make a real living out of it. Or if you’re still living off your parents. But if you’re working for nothing but praise and peanuts – especially if the peanuts are stale and the praise not forthcoming – that’s love.

8. Actors are real people.

I know I said 7 reasons, but I’m adding one more because I want to give you a little something extra.

One of the best things about indie theatre is that you can actually meet the people behind the show. Hang out after the curtain call, and you may very well meet the dashing hero or charming leading lady you just saw a few moments ago. And unless you’re a complete psycholunaticmaniacstalker, you won’t have to worry about security ushering you out of the building.

How to find this stuff

There are a bunch of online sources for finding indie theatre shows. But if you’re a wage slave like me, you don’t have time to hunt them down. So the first place I go is StageBuddy.com. I really like it because I can search for shows in my area (the center of the universe – also known as New York City) by date, price, genre, and location. There are tons of other places to go, and I’m sure you can find more via Google.

With that you can have a pretty good idea about how much money your friends will have to spot you for food and booze. But if you’re one of those squeaky-clean I-don’t-do-anything-that’s-bad-for-me types, you can keep the extra money in your pocket and just have a good time.

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