How we can help Tolkien community theater

I occasionally post announcements of upcoming stage productions for “The Hobbit” at the SF-Fandom forums. I think it’s so cool that Tolkien’s work has inspired hundreds, perhaps thousands of plays in schools, children’s theaters, community theaters, and even international theater through the years.

Unfortunately, most of the announcements I find are published on local news sites the day of the cast auditions or the days of the performances. Although the local theater groups probably have mailing lists and other means of promoting their shows, I just feel that their Internet marketing lacks sufficient reach to help grow their audiences.

The Tolkien fan community can help promote local theater productions in several ways, particularly by reaching out to these companies and organizations and offering to help spread the word online. I’ve just made such an offer in the Hobbit News newsletter and on the Tolkien Studies on the Web blog.

I welcome press releases from community theaters, children’s theaters, and other local production groups who are reaching out to their local and nearby communities. You should announce your casting calls at least two weeks in advance. You should announce your plays at least two months in advance.

Tolkien fan sites can support their local community theaters by publishing casting calls, show times, linking to the theater Web sites (and production company sites if they are different), even by interviewing local playwrights, directors, and actors.

Fan Web sites can follow up the productions by posting reviews, including pictures of the events. And if you have a small Tolkien fan group in your community, why not schedule a supporting event around the time of the play?

I think there will be even more Tolkien productions in local theater over the next two years than ever before. I’ve already noticed an increasing number of announcements. And fans of C.S. Lewis, L. Frank Baum, and other classic children’s books authors should lend similar support to their community theaters.

We can make this an exciting time and build better relations between the online fannish communities and local “mundane” entertainment groups.

Think about it.

SF-Fandom is a fan-run moderated Web discussion community devoted to science fiction, fantasy, history, and mythology. Founded in 2001, SF-Fandom is part of the Xenite.Org Network of science fiction and fantasy Web sites.


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