There can be good reasons to produce a rarely performed work. And, more likely, there are very good reasons why something hasn’t been performed in 60 years. If you let your audience in on the real reason for a rare revival, perhaps they’ll be more understanding if the evening’s entertainment doesn’t meet their usual expectations of your work. Or maybe by surfacing the truth, you’ll reconsider the choice, saving your audience’s time and money from works that should be left alone.
Here are some recent examples, real and close-to real. Which performances would you want to see?
A. Two roommates in college, now famous actresses of stage and television, want to do something together. This is the only play they could agree to do — a dated work from the 70s. Perhaps they’ll find out in rehearsals why they haven’t worked together in 30 years.
B. The work requires the world’s top six tenors and we’ve got the ones still able to leap tall buildings. You may find the story simple and the context dated, but you’re guaranteed some vocal fireworks.
C. In this 1929 revival, there is one quasi-familiar song plus a funny song that’s the favorite of the major sponsor and one of the chorus boys (now living with the director). You’ll probably enjoy seven minutes out of the 150-minute evening.
D. An early work by this playwright will help you understand her later successes. We wish we could afford to present one of the successes alongside the playwright’s learning-to-write version. Hopefully in a near-future season. Donate today.
E. Tonight’s story, based on Greek myths, offers striking parallels to the 21st century. The opera is about transformation, like the acute shift from wealth to poverty and back again. A clever blend of comedy, tragedy and morality tale, this opera demonstrates how fortunes can change instantly, with one divine spell or one click of the mouse.
F. The lead actress, coming out of retirement, requests this obscure British work from her youth. She has two good scenes and then drifts in and out the remainder of the play, observing the action as if a ghost. A tour-de-force performance she’d like you to remember as her legacy to the “thee-uh-tah.”
G. Most of the music is terrific. The book, revised four times while the composer was still alive, continues to be problematic. The director knows how to solve this and is writing his version. We tried to engage a successful playwright or show doctor to work behind the scenes with the director. No one was available or interested. You’ll have a chance to critique online after opening night, only two weeks away.
H. We obtained lavish sets and costumes, designed for another opera. Hopefully the visual stimulation will hold your attention for three hours of repetitive music.
I. The work is in an obscure language, still spoken by a dwindling tribe of Brazilian rain-forest natives. Our soloist spent 10 years living with the late composer among those natives, and is spending six weeks with our chorus to prepare this remarkable evening for you.
If you can reveal the truth about why you’re producing a rarely-performed work, let your audience know in every advertisement. You’ll attract those who are adventurous, those who want to support you and your efforts, or those who require seeing the creator’s complete body of work. If you can’t put your producing intentions in print, then let the sleeping dog lie in perpetuity. Cherish your audience’s time, money and interest in seeing your future work.