13 x 4 = 52

Here we are in the final weekend of the run of A Walk in the Woods! Over the past few months, whenever people asked me why we produced  A Walk In The Woods at Theater Wit, I talked about TimeLine’s need to expand our production schedule to accommodate a growing audience plus wanting to increase the length of production runs. To do that, we needed to move one production off site because it was the only way to make the numbers work. One gentleman responded by saying, “so it really is just about the math.”

Is it really just about the math?

The simple answer is yes. For the previous two seasons, TimeLine had to cap the number of subscriptions we sold. It was becoming very hard for our subscribers to get seats on the nights they wanted. There wasn’t as much flexibility with our FlexPass subscription as we wanted to offer; reservations needed to be made very early to get first choice of dates. Also, it was becoming difficult to purchase extra tickets for friends to introduce them to TimeLine, as many productions sold out early in their runs.

In the long-term, not being able to bring in new audiences was holding us back. The vitality of our organization relies on our patrons. TimeLine’s mission is about engaging people to be a part of a larger conversation. And while we love the conversations we are having, we know that in order to stay vibrant and expand the impact these conversations can have, it’s important to keep meeting new people to engage.

Faced with these twin desires — to give our patrons more of the flexibility they had in the past plus accommodate new audiences — the solution that rose to the top was to expand our production calendar from 9-week runs to 13 weeks.

With each production running for 13 weeks and continuing to produce 4 shows per season, we had a numbers problem. 13 x 4

TimeLine Company Members David Parkes and Janet Ulrich Brooks are negotiators John Honeyman and Anya Botvinnik in "A Walk in the Woods" at Theater Wit.
TimeLine Company Members David Parkes and Janet Ulrich Brooks are negotiators John Honeyman and Anya Botvinnik in “A Walk in the Woods” at Theater Wit.

= 52.  Plus each show takes a week to tech and a week or more to load in the set. TimeLine loves time, but we haven’t yet figured out how to manufacture more weeks in the year (believe me we’d like to try)! So the next solution was to move one production to a different venue. Thus, A Walk in the Woods at Theater Wit, and the remainder of our 4-play season at our home on Wellington Avenue.

The effect of this decision has been significant. Our expanded production schedule for 2011-12 resulted in more available performances and seats than ever before — 107 more performances and 10,000 more seats, in fact!

The continued success of TimeLine is due in large part to you seeing our shows and introducing your friends to the work on our stage. We know this has been particularly challenging the past two years, but so far the added performances seem to be making it easier. In fact, we already have been able to welcome an additional 700+ subscribers (a nearly 30% increase over last season), and hundreds of single-ticket buyers to both A Walk in the Woods and The Pitmen Painters.

Our experience at Theater Wit ends this weekend, with only 5 performances left of A Walk In The Woods. It’s not too late to purchase tickets to Walk or a subscription to all four plays! The rest of the year we’re back at our home on Wellington — The Pitmen Painters (now extended through December 18) is followed by the Chicago premiere of Enron by Lucy Prebble, directed by Rachel Rockwell (performances start January 17) and the world premiere of John Conroy’s My Kind of Town, directed by Nick Bowling (performances start May 1, 2012).

Thank you for taking this journey with TimeLine.

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