Philadelphia's Azuka Theatre Becomes First in U.S. with Pay-What-You-Decide All Season

Philadelphia's Azuka Theatre Becomes First in U.S. with Pay-What-You-Decide All Season

Azuka Theatre invites audiences to pay-what-you-decide for the entire 2016-2017 theater season with an innovative new approach to ticketing. A city that celebrates so many historic "firsts" is the perfect place to launch the only full-season model of this kind in the United States.

Audience members will make a reservation for a show, see the production first and then pay what they decide based on the value of the experience. Pay-what-you-decide is designed to bring in new audiences and remove financial barriers to theater.

The program is supported by a $55,000 grant from The Barra Foundation. Shows in the new season will include the world premieres of Sh_theads by Douglas Williams and The Arsonists by Jacqueline Goldfinger, as well as the Philadelphia premiere of How We Got On by Idris Goodwin.

All performances will take place in Azuka's resident theater complex at The Drake (302 S. Hicks Street). For more information, visit www.azukatheatre.org or by phone at (215) 563-1100.

"Azuka's goal is to open our doors to all members of our community and engage the next generation of theater lovers," said Azuka's Co-Founder & Marketing Director Mark H. Andrews. "With the pay-what-you-decide model, we can eliminate the financial barriers of attending theater. Patrons will decide the value of their experience at our shows. The price is up to them - and they won't pay a dime until after the show. Philadelphia has a thriving, expansive and fast growing theater scene that makes it the perfect spot to make theater history."

Azuka's new pay-what-you-decide model leaves the price up to the patron for each and every show in the 2016-2017 season. No money is exchanged before the show. Tickets will be available to reserve in advance as usual, but there is no obligation to pay until after the show. Patrons can then decide on a price which they think is suitable based on their experience. Ticket payment can be made after the performance by cash, check or credit card. Patrons can also make a payment after the show on the Azuka website. All money collected helps to pay Azuka artists and further support future productions.

Since there are no set ticket prices, the traditional system of season subscriptions will be discontinued for the season, as will student and other discounts.

"Now that you have the opportunity to pay-what-you-decide based on your experience, this model eliminates the need for reduced price, discounted or tiered ticketing, providing an equal opportunity for patrons from any financial background," said Azuka's Producing Artistic Director Kevin Glaccum.

Azuka is committed to the pay-what-you-decide model for two full seasons. If the model is successful in its inaugural year the company will be able to use the funds raised from the productions to support the continuation of the program. It is paramount to secure the funds needed at the beginning of the season, and this revenue traditionally comes from a combination of funders, individual donors and subscription sales.

"The most obvious risk faced with this program would be not making the budgeted ticket sales goal," said Glaccum. "We are confident in the work we produce and the continued support of the audiences already established. If pay-what-you-decide ticketing goes well, we could be empowered to take even more artistic risks on new work as financial risks are removed, and larger audiences would allow for the production of shows currently outside the scope and scale of the company's budget."

Azuka engaged with ARC Stockton Arts Centre in England, the originators of the pay-what-you-decide model, to research the model during the fall of 2015 and winter of 2016. Azuka then tested the concept during the first week of its season closer, Moth.

Locally, Theatre Horizon recently announced they will begin testing the Early Stages of the pay-what-you-decide model in August during Alex Timbers' raucous musical about America's First Political Populist President, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson on Thursday, August 4 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be reserved online at www.theatrehorizon.org.

In addition to the new ticketing model, Azuka is excited to announce their 17th season - centered around the power of one. Azuka brings you three amazing plays by playwrights with unique voices and fresh perspectives, full of passionate and quirky characters. In a world where problems seem insurmountable, we turn on the news and can't help but wonder: 'what difference can one person make?' Azuka's 17th season asks this question and more - join us in celebrating the power of one: One song. One idea. One spark that sets the world on fire. Sometimes all we've got is what's inside us. Sometimes that's enough. Experience something new this season, let us change you.

"This season continues our tradition of telling the stories of outcasts and underdogs, as well as exposing our audiences to new work and new voices," Azuka's Associate Artistic Director Allison Heishman. "Audiences will recognize the work of Douglas Williams (Moon Cave, 2015) and Jacqueline Goldfinger (the terrible girls, 2011; Skin & Bone, 2014). The Arsonists is the third play in the southern gothic trilogy Goldfinger has been developing with Azuka since the premiere of the terrible girls."

"New plays are always exciting for us! This season is made up of three distinct and original playwrights, added Heishman. "This will be the first time a full-length play by nationally renowned playwright Idris Goodwin has been produced in Philadelphia (he was one of the playwrights featured in Flashpoint's critically acclaimed Hands Up!). Williams, who wowed Azuka audiences with the challenging Moon Cave, is back with Shitheads and Goldfinger brings her southern gothic trilogy to an exciting close with the hauntingly beautiful father/daughter story in The Arsonists."

An Azuka New Professionals Production and Philadelphia Premiere:
HOW WE GOT ON
By Idris Goodwin
Directed By Raelle Myrick-Hodges
September 21 - October 9, 2016

Hank, Julian, and Luann are three talented, determined suburban teens coming of age in the 1980s. Dreaming of fame and fortune in the new Hip-Hop music scene, they must overcome cultural isolation, familial dysfunction, and ruthless rivalries to make the music that defines their lives. A sultry DJ spins their stories with her own meta-theatrical perspective in this contemporary ode to the roots of rap.

A World Premiere by a Philadelphia Playwright:
SH_THEADS
By Douglas Williams
Directed By Kevin Glaccum
February 22 - March 12, 2017

Bert's Bikes and Sports, a down-and-out bike shop in lower Manhattan, is on its last leg. Customers have vanished, the shop across the street is poaching their best mechanics, and the new guy they just hired doesn't even own a bike. Now that Alejandro has finally been promoted to manager, he'll need to get creative in order to save the shop he loves -- and he just so happens to have an idea that could bring Bert's back from the dead.

A World Premiere by a Philadelphia Playwright:
THE ARSONISTS
By Jacqueline Goldfinger
Directed By Allison Heishman
May 3 - 21, 2017

Set deep in a Florida swamp, The Arsonists is a father-daughter tale of grief, loss, hope and redemption. Inspired by the Greek tragedy Electra, this play with music is a contemporary American myth that explores the relationship between parent and child in that small space between life and death, the last breath before the awakening. The third play in Goldfinger's Southern Gothic trilogy, which began with the terrible girls and Skin & Bone, The Arsonists is currently a finalist for the Leah Ryan Prize.

For more information about the season or pay-what-you-decide visit www.azukatheatre.org or by phone at (215) 563-1100.

Azuka Theatre strengthens the connection and shared humanity among its diverse audiences by giving voice to the people whose stories go unheard. Located in Philadelphia, Azuka was founded in 1999 by a group of young artists participating in the Arden Theatre Company's nationally recognized Professional Apprentice Program. Azuka Theatre has built a reputation for accessible, thought-provoking and socially conscious theater and been hailed as "a company to watch" and a "major player on the Philadelphia alterNative Theatre scene'" by Philadelphia Weekly. Azuka is currently at are currently at 37 productions, 16 world premieres, 17 Philadelphia premieres. We are a Resident Partner at The Drake and Associate Members of the National New Play Network.

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