We Don't Aim to Please

Four thespian kingpins reveal their most elaborately staged fantasies

I would want to include a musical, and no recent musical fascinates me more than Side Show. With its hauntingly beautiful score and fascinating three-dimensional characters, I feel Side Show -- which tells the true story of Daisy and Violet Hilton, conjoined identical twins, and the freak show they joined at the beginning of the 20th Century -- would be an ideal choice.

I would want to include Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues. Originally performed as a one-woman show by the playwright, this series of stories about women's experiences involving their genitalia has since become a chance for three actresses to share the stage at each performance for two-week stints. Like the current New York production, I would have a series of actresses perform the show, with a different trio of actress appearing in the show for one weekend each during the run.

My fifth choice would be The Crumple Zone by Buddy Thomas. Currently playing off-Broadway, this acclaimed comedy about five men confronting questions about love and fidelity over a holiday weekend would be perfect for our company.

Joe Adler (left) stands tall behind GableStage, while Rafael de Acha brings a breath of fresh fare to New Theatre
Steve Satterwhite
Joe Adler (left) stands tall behind GableStage, while Rafael de Acha brings a breath of fresh fare to New Theatre

New Times: If you could create your ideal audience, who would they be?

Adler: I want theatergoers from kosher 16-year-olds to open-minded 90-year-olds. I want them all! That's one great thing about theater. You get a cross section that you just can't get with movies. When you stand in line for a movie, you feel like no one over 25 exists.

We are steadily developing younger audiences, but I don't want to do it at the expense of driving out the older ones. There are elderly people in this community who have more contemporary tastes than younger ones. It has nothing to do with age and everything to do with attitude.

De Acha: My ideal audience would be 50 percent subscription. I long for an audience who is loyal enough to theater that they will commit to a whole body of work. If you are doing a Cuban-American playwright, you will probably get them to come, but whether they will turn around and come to a Terrence McNally play like Love! Valour! Compassion! remains to be seen.

I would like to see more of a mix from all segments of the South Florida population. Even in Miami, which is one of the most diverse cities in America, the majority of our audience is still Anglo and over 50. Many twenty- and thirtysomethings, Hispanics, and African-Americans, are not going to the theater. But things are beginning to change. New Theatre does an audience demographics analysis every three months, and the last count reported 22 percent of our audience members under the age of 25.

I am lucky because New Theatre's audiences do make the journey with us. For example when we recently did The House of the Seven Gables, I thought, It would be nice if it does well at the box office, but this one is for our soul. We ended up doing great at the box office. We often get these kinds of surprises from our audiences.

Saunders: The ideal audience would be one that is open to new ideas and has a thirst to see new and original works, not the same plays that tend to be produced over and over again. We want an audience that is willing to put aside any preconceived notions of what theater should be and is willing to join us on our journey of discovery as we challenge ourselves and our audience to redefine theater's artistic boundaries.

Hall: If I could create my own audience, it would be a mix of young, middle-age, and old -- wildly diverse -- black, white, or sunburned, straight and gay. No one eats candy (or dinner) during the play. No hearing aids or cell phones go off. No one screams, "What did she say?" or explains the plot. No one wants helicopters or flying chandeliers on-stage. No one says Neil Simon's The Star-Spangled Girl is his or her favorite play. When they hear properly spoken Southern and British accents, they don't ask the management, "Why aren't the actors speaking English?"

Next week: What stands between each of these four men and his theatrical pinings?

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