**No one I've given tickets to should get their panties in a twist over this. This isn't about you. I'm happy to say that all producers that have attended shows at my theatre have behaved supportively and for that, I am grateful.**
So, readers of my blog know that some pretty spectacular theatre shows are happening in Monterey, CA right now. (Quick side note, Pacific Rep. Theatre in Carmel just opened "Buddy Holly and Friends in Concert" and it's getting some wonderful feedback). While I unfortunately don't get to see everything playing due to needing to be at my own theatre, I do get the chance to see quite a bit, and that is largely due to invites and occasional complimentary tickets from fellow producers in the area.
I recently ran into one of the stars of "Buddy Holly..." and she generously offered me two "comps" to see the show and, as luck would have it, I happen to be able to go see it. Better still, my friend really wants me to see her perform. That's really very cool and I am super grateful... and that act of kindness got me thinking about these kinds of tickets.
I recall a colleague of mine who was rightfully angry at a fellow director because of their behavior after they had received such a ticket.
Apparently, after this person had called my colleague to get 2 "comp" tickets to a very big and popular show, they proceeded to trash talk the *free* performance all around our county. Their actions, of course, got back to my colleague, causing an unnecessary and uncomfortable rift between them. He was offended. I side with my colleague on this one because it is never nice, receiving this "sneaky criticism". More so, it just makes the offender look petty, selfish, and well...TACKY.
My Grandmother used to say "Good manners are for making people feel included and appreciated, not excluded and criticized."
If someone gives you a wrapped gift, you wouldn't unwrap it and then proceed to tell your friends what a crappy gift it was. And you most certainly wouldn't start criticizing the gift in front of the giver. And if you would, you need a crash course in etiquette.
Sadly, the offenders are not limited to just theatre people. I have many times given away free tickets in online contests, radio spots, etc, only to have the people show up and be extremely rude to my staff, complain about the parking, the weather, the seagulls on my roof, and just generally be pissy while holding $50.00 worth of free tickets. Or even worse, people who claim free tickets and never show up at all. Again, TACKY.
I am not talking about theatre critics who get paid to critique shows; clearly they can give their opinion freely. But unless you consider reviewing shows as your profession, it might behoove you to pay attention.
As a Public Service Announcement, I have decided to write a small list of "dos and don'ts" for the receiver of free tickets. Bear in mind that these are mostly for people getting tickets from directors and producers, but can easily be applied to people getting free stuff from anywhere. They're called manners, my little Droogies....let's all use them.
1) If you had to call a producer, director, theatre owner, etc. to receive free tickets, go with the attitude of enjoyment instead of the attitude of "I wonder what will be wrong with this". You are obligated to find things you like about the production. You may find several things you don't like as well, but keep that to yourself. If you really need to bitch about what you saw, call your Aunt Millie in Texas or someone out of the area. DO NOT go running around town spewing your opinion unsolicited. If you did like the show, tell the person who gave you the tickets and thank them again. REMEMBER that YOU called THEM to receive the FREE tickets. Be grateful.
2) If you are offered free tickets by someone, the same rules apply. If the person asks you what you thought, (especially if they use the word "honestly") respond privately and be polite. Talk about what you liked more than what you didn't.
3) DO NOT march up to anyone involved with the production after and give advice, direction, criticism, a better idea, etc. No one wants to hear it. Even if your heart is in the right place, it is never appropriate and will only cause people to feel uncomfortable. Never say ANYTHING to the actors except "Good Job". If you can't say that, keep your mouth zipped.
4) DO remember that you are a guest and behave yourself. Be nice to the Box Office, the ushers, the concession workers. Let the paying customers complain. DO NOT complain about anything while seated for the show, even to your companion, because chances are someone who knows the person who gave you free tickets will hear you...making you later look like an idiot.
5) DO NOT be offended if your request for comp tickets is denied. Often, producers cannot afford to give up paying seats. Be pleasant if you are told no and DO NOT let this fuel your fire to bitch.
6) DO write a thank you to the person who gave you tickets, or better yet if you enjoyed yourself, talk about how much you liked the production publicly.
7) DO bring a paying friend if you can. That's just a nice thing to do.
In closing, just be a professional grown up and show a little class. It is much appreciated.