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March 7, 2014

OUR OPINION: Spacing out high school plays would help

High school theater programs get a lot of attention in Clark and Floyd counties for good reason. On any given school year, we see at least one high school go to the International Thespian Festival — which really is a big deal — if not two or more.

The students put in a lot of hard work, not just with acting and singing, but with behind-the-scenes work.

When we give them coverage in the newspaper and at newsandtribune.com, it helps out everyone — they get the word out to boost ticket sales; we get stories and compelling photos to publish.

But sometimes, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

If you looked at Thursday’s paper, you saw our roundup of five separate high school productions. All of them opened this weekend, which is also a busy week for boys’ high school tournament basketball.

Most of them are running for two weeks; one of them is this weekend only.

Next week, two more shows are opening. You’ll see coverage of them, too, but they’ll probably get a little more attention than the other five schools did this week simply because of space and time concerns.

It’s nothing personal, it’s just a matter of our ability to dedicate our resources.

For all the strengths of the theater programs, why isn’t inter-program communication one of those? Opening so many shows in one week seems counter-productive for every program getting ready to debut a play.

With a couple of these schools looking to take their shows on the road this summer, they need every dime they can get in ticket revenue. It’s expensive to pack up sets, lights, costumes and students halfway across the country.

If extended family have nieces, nephews or grandchildren in multiple shows, how does it help to make them pick and choose which shows they can and can’t attend? Those are dollars they may be missing out on.

Theater programs typically have to submit their opening dates to school boards for approval long before rehearsals even begin for those shows. Before boards have to vote on those schedules, why not get together in a summit and stagger out the shows?

Theater kids don’t typically view their colleagues in other schools as competition, but stacking the opening dates on top of each other creates competition for ticket sales.

Ask any theater student how they feel about another school’s show. They’ll probably say they want to show up and support their efforts. Usually, you won’t hear anything about a rivalry.

It’s much easier for students to support their fellow actors and stage workers at nearby schools if they aren’t all on the stage at the same time.

We want to highlight as many of these shows as possible and we want all to succeed. It seems to us that communication and spacing out these shows by at least a few weeks would work to benefit all the high school theater departments.

— The News and Tribune editorial board is comprised of Publisher Bill Hanson, Editor Shea Van Hoy, Assistant Editor Chris Morris and Assistant Editor Jason Thomas. Responses can be sent to shea.vanhoy@newsandtribune.com

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