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Will The Programme Ripoff Ever End?


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#11 Laughingmonsta

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 10:16 PM

Playbills are not free - they may seem free as you don't physically pay for them, but the cost is hidden on the inside of the ticket price. However the big difference is in the souvenier programmes in UK these are between £6-10 depending on show in NYC these can sell for as much as $30. I use programmes as a souvenier and a collection - I can see my life through over 21 years of theatre going. It helps me remember what I was doing etc.
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#12 Matthew Winn

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 11:18 PM

View PostOliverT, on 13 December 2012 - 09:57 PM, said:

There has not been one reply that has even been close to being on point. The question is: When ticket prices are as high as in New York, why are Londoners, unlike New Yorkers, willing to pay up to an additional 4 quid for a slight brochure full of adverts?

Why shouldn't we have to pay to get something? What grounds are there for turning it into a useless wad of crap like Playbill just so it can be free? (I've never seen a UK programme that has had advertising interleaved with the names of the cast. Playbill feels like a miniature version of the free local paper that gets shoved through my door every week.) Are you suggesting that New York has the One True Way and anyone who doesn't follow it is wrong?

I'd agree that both the ticket prices and programme prices are too high - respectively up by about 80% and 400% above inflation since I first went to the West End - and I think anyone responsible for selling as "programmes" souvenir brochures at brochure prices should be locked in a cage with hungry rats until there's nothing left but the bones, but I don't see "Broadway does it differently" as a particularly well thought out reason for changing. A programme has to be paid for somehow, and I'd rather pay for it myself than have the cost added on somewhere else or end up with a booklet of advertising that requires the expenditure of some considerable effort just to find a reference to the show.
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#13 fringefan

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 04:25 AM

I understand that some people collect programmes but given the cost, and storage space required, I ruled it out long ago and don't even contemplate it.  I too do a rough calculation of likely overall expense when planning a day in London (i.e. fare, film, two plays) and certainly don't buy extras of any kind, i.e. no theatre refreshments, either.  Even if I could afford these things, I wouldn't enjoy them at the prices charged!  Admittedly some theatre programmes are very honourable exceptions, in including the play text, but this isn't something I want either.

#14 armadillo

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 07:12 AM

Congratulations, OP - I never thought there would be a subject that all WoSers agree on but apparently we think we should be allowed to spend our own money as we wish. Incidentally, I have a bunch of programmes from the 1930s and 1940s - I doubt very much that 6d for a few sheets of paper (smaller than A5) with b/w photos, many adverts and no information about the play other than the cast list and the fact that the theatre was regularly swooshed down with Jeyes fluid, represented good value for money. And the wartime ones are usually a single sheet of folded paper - but they still charged.

#15 fringefan

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 08:00 AM

Actually, the free single sheets at the NT, Royal Court, etc, aren't bad and probably tell you as much about the actual play as some of the big, expensive, glossy brochures.  Perhaps there's an inverse ratio here?

#16 Schuttep

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 10:30 AM

I used to buy programmes every time I went to the theatre and got upset if I couldn't. Then I moved from a detached house in Birmingham to a flat in London and couldn't store everything I'd kept. Getting rid of some programmes was a wrench but had to be done and now I only buy programmes and (sorry to those who disapprove) brochures for certain theatres/producers/writers.

I am always impressed by the fact that the Les Miserables souvenir brochure has been £5 for as long as I can remember without any reduction in quality. Well done Sir CamMac!

As for free programmes, nothing is free. If the cost isn't covered by advertising then ticket prices (ie the ticket buyer) must increase to pay for it.
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#17 Deal J

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 01:14 PM

Many of the programmes do contain more than just a cast list and adverts. Thinking of my most recent visit, the Menier Chocolate Factory have included an interview with Maria Friedman. I was surprised they weren't selling programmes at Soho Theatre for "A Clockwork Orange", but impressed with their alternative - the entire playtext with cast list and directors interview - all for just £4!

A particular favourite of mine is "Noises Off" which contains an additional fake programme for the play-within-the-play "Nothing On": http://dealj.files.w...illy_insert.jpg

Some theatres really milk it though, the souvenir brouchure for "Wizard of Oz" doesn't even contain the cast list, that's in a separate programme in some bizarre attempt to make someone think they'd need both. (...more fool me!)
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#18 Honoured Guest

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 01:34 PM

The value of a programme for a live event derives from the information it contains, which may be of use or of interest during the event or afterwards. The programme may also be a souvenir. The advertising will have been paid for and so may limit prices charged. When deciding whether or not to purchase a programme, I consider its price and its value - the same as when I choose whether or not to purchase anything else. The customs of a theatre district on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean play no part in my decision.

#19 theatreliker

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 02:38 PM

I like to buy a programme for the information in it and as a souvenir. I collect ones from a certain (ATG) musical and have noticed the prices going up and content going down over the years. I like the NT and Old Vic ones.
Delfont Mackintosh theatres do good ones too... with info. about other shows int here, they get to plug a show and we get to read an interview, etc..
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#20 Kathryn2

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 04:51 PM

I would also like to point out that New York and London theatre ticket prices are no where near equivalent - not when so many shows in London do discounts, and so many tickets in New York are sold at more than face value!!

I've seen people comment that it will probably still be cheaper to see Book Of Mormon in London than New York even if you're paying for the flight...




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