Now That’s The Way!

I am approaching the end of the process of writing text for my next season brochure and I am trying to keep my descriptions interesting as per my earlier entries (here and here) in response to Greg Sandow’s post back in March 04 about keeping press releases interesting. He has actually since posted some examples of how to write interesting releases and I bookmarked that entry for further reference. (He is really passionate about the subject and he really expounds on the theme in his entries ranging from May 25 to June 15)

I found a place that does an excellent job of bringing a sense of joy and fun to Shakespeare, Moliere and Shaw. I have to admit to being jealous of their writing skills. About 3-4 months ago, someone handed me a brochure for American Players Theatre in Spring Green, WI. I really only had a little time to read it then. But I took a look at it today for layout ideas and I was really impressed by the writing.

You can get a sense of what they infuse into their work from the play descriptions on the website, but ironically they have much more in this brochure where the space is more expensive.

For example, the website and brochure more or less have this to say about Moliere’s Tartuffe:

Here’s classic comedy with a French twist. Welcome to the drawing rooms of Gay Paree. To the household of Orgon, a rich bourgeois who’s become a bigot and prude in middle age. One ridiculously laughable dude.

His family’s up in arms over Tartuffe, a flimflam man of criminal bent whose current facade of religious fervor has Orgon totally bamboozled. All in the family, including the maid, get in on the act, trying to warn their master. He’s being taken for all he’s worth by this shifty devil. What an hilarious disaster.

Wait’ll you catch the scene where Orgon’s own wife is used as bait to entrap this lascivious rat, who’s blinded by his own irrepressible lust for her. Delight in the bite of the spoken word. Ogle at the sight of breathtaking costumes. Your kids will definitely dig it. The villainy at play.

But the brochure includes irreverent notes on Moliere like “The church was so POed at Moliere’s lampooning of social and religious hypocrisy that for years his bones were denied sanctified ground.” There are about 250 words writing in this way about the play and the director’s approach to it. It is notes like this that help audiences understand the background of the show and what they are going to see.

But what I really loved about the brochure was the way they presented their ticket policies, subscription plans and just plain invited people to attend.

Keep in mind this brochure was sent out in the cold of winter.

Pop thy sunroof mama. and take golden rays along for the ride.
You are hereby invited to utilize this brochure as ice scraper, snow shovel, defrost and deluxe heater combined. Clear the windshield of your wintry mind, Feel fiery breath upon shivering bones. Leave behind the frigid Hiber Nation zone. Uncoil. Unwind. Time to don less clothes. The looser, lighter, softly silken supple kind. Pack the car with family, friends and food….Stroll up the hill to your comfu cushioned seat. The stars emblazoned overhead and afire with intensity on the stage at your very feet. You laugh. You cry. You embrace the joys of being alive. Into the arms of summer you’ve definitely arrived.”

Man, if I got a brochure like that evoking dreams of the summer ahead, I would be on the mailing list and looking forward to its arrival in the winter.

Now check out these–

Scandalous Savings and How They Relate To Your Inalienable Rights as a Chosen One.

You are a very important person to us. Among only a privileged few chosen for this critical role. With summer in the wings and stakes so great, your purchase of tickets now is intensely catalytic. Propels us forward, quickens the pace. Electrifys the place….(Explaination of discount on tickets)…Seize the moment from time’s incessant march! Ignite the Box Office phones, Crash our website. Burn out the fax. It is your right. Your might. Launch us into glorious summer. Beat the deadline of April 8, 2005.

Really great stuff in my mind. I wanna go to Wisconsin this summer!

My submission deadline is too close right now to change my season brochure but I am going to make it my purpose over the next year to integrate Greg’s tips into my press releases and take a lesson from the American Players and fire the imagination and infuse my writing with a sense of fun.

I know I can do it. I have the sense of humor to write that sorta stuff. I just have to get over the idea that my writing has to be poised and professional–sensually exciting without resorting to sensationalism, ala my Demon Horses Unleashed! entry, to try to catch newspaper editors’attention.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


Leave a Comment