What’s the key to a successful theater production? The acting and writing, of course, count for a lot. But, as producer and Echo Park resident Seth Compton knows, a cheap ticket also helps. That’s why Compton and the new L’Enfant Terrible theater company established adult admission to the family-friendly “Hamlet – Prince of Puddles” at $9.99 at the Bootleg Theater in Historic Filipinotown (children are $5). “I just turned thirty, and honestly it’s hard to get my friends to pay anything more than ten bucks,” said Compton, whose play closes this Sunday. “We have to keep our admission in check with other local artistic scenes. Small music shows rarely run more than ten, and, when they do, there are some friends who ‘don’t make it out.'” But how can Compton’s company cover its costs when most productions can’t come close to breaking even by charging $25 and more?
Keeping it simple and finding other sources of revenue is key, Compton has learned. Prince of Puddles is the first production for L’Enfant Terrible, which consists of Compton and two persons. They were able to cover most of the the costs for their first production through the support of the Bootleg Theater, individuals and businesses, ranging from bagel makers to flower shops. In addition, they lined up student groups to come see the show. “All of this revenue has gone into the production and kept us out of debt,” said Compton, who took a low-cost, hands-on approach to attract an audience.
“I did a lot of street marketing on my bike just handing flyers out to people on the street and in parks,” Compton said in an email. “Our price point allowed families to take a chance and see some Shakespeare.”
This summer, the company plans to take the show on the road to camps and schools, generating more revenue that will help subsidize another production later this year year. The tickets to that project will include “bleacher” like-seating for under $10, with higher prices for other seats. “We are committed to having affordable tickets,”Compton said.