Free Night of Theater 2007: See a bit of drama, on the house

Time again for your annual chance to sample what area thespians do, at no cost

Free theatre. A great way to get people to sample some of the art of the stage, yes? That was the thinking of Theatre Communi-cations Group, a national service organization for nonprofit theatres, when it launched the pilot program of Free Night of Theater in 2005, and the results were encouraging. Among the three pilot cities – one of which was Austin – more than 8,000 people attended the 170 performances offered at no charge. Last year, TCG expanded Free Night of Theater to 14 cities, with 387 theatre companies offering more than 35,000 tickets to 522 performances, and feedback from audience members showed the event accomplishing what its creators hoped it would. Nationally, two-thirds of the folks taking advantage of the free tickets used the opportunity to visit a theatre they'd never been to before, and 15% did so to see theatre for the first time ever. In Austin specifically, three-quarters of the participants visited a theatre they'd never been to before, and more than a third returned to that theatre after the event. And 31% say they're going to theatre more often thanks to Free Night of Theater.

With those kinds of numbers, is it any wonder that Latifah Taormina, executive director of local sponsoring organization the Austin Circle of Theaters, and the rest of our friends at ACoT all are excited about Free Night of Theater III taking place later this month? The official night is Thursday, Oct. 18, but participating area companies aren't restricting themselves to that evening. Some are offering free tickets to performances on Oct. 18, 20, 25, and 27 and Nov. 1, 5, 7, 8, 10, and 14. To see what shows are being offered and when this year, direct your browser to www.freenightoftheater.net and select "Austin" in the "Find Shows" window. Currently, 14 different productions are listed, but more should be added by Thursday, Oct. 11, the first day you can begin reserving tickets online. Already the list is about as diverse as local theatre gets, with offerings from Different Stages, Salvage Vanguard, Second Youth Family Theatre, Teatro Vivo, Hill Country Community Theatre, Shrewd Productions, City Theatre Company, the UT Department of Theatre and Dance, and the improv groups Parallelogramophono-graph and the Frank Mills. Classical comedy, world-premiere musicals, plays for youth, great American drama, Austin-penned plays, improv, and you can see whatever strikes your fancy for free. If you like the sound of that, make that reservation and go. The free-ticket fine print: Limit two tickets per person. All tickets subject to availability. Reservations must be made between Oct. 11-20. Tickets must be picked up at least one hour before showtime, or they may be released. For more information, e-mail communicate@acotonline.org.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Free Night of Theater, Theatre Communications Group, Latifah Taormina, Austin Circle of Theaters

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