Mystic Bison Theatre & DanceTM
Why Aren't We Listed?
A number of you have asked us this and .... we don't know why.
Your local press is not as reliable as you might like to believe. For example, for Purgatorio, we have sent standard press releases to the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Weekly, and Theatre Bay Area magazine over and over and over again. Their failure to publish timely and accurate listings for the California Premiere of Purgatorio is particularly egregious.
Most theatre listings in local publications, such as the San Francisco Chronicle, are provided as a "public service." That service does not seem to extend to us, one of the very best small theatre companies performing in the Bay Area. Perhaps, it is a ploy to force us to pay for advertising which is provided to others for free.
Here is a letter we sent to the Chronicle on 4/17/2007:
What do we have to do to get the Datebook to list our shows?
Don't just tell us to e-mail our listing to the appropriate address (firstname.lastname@example.org), the method you supposedly prefer over mailing and faxing. We've been meticulously following the submission guidelines and doing this for years and have always experienced trouble having the Chronicle list our shows. Is this a technique to force us to advertise with you? Except for the heavily subsidized, multi-million dollar operations like ACT and Shorenstein, theatre production companies are notorious for being cash-strapped. (The Chronicle underwrites some of the multi-million dollar shows as a "media sponsor.")
For our current show, after e-mailing the press releases repeatedly and finally resorting to snail-mail and faxing, sfgate.com finally listed our current show, the California Premiere of Purgatorio, weeks after it opened. That listing does not note it as a California Premiere. Despite the claims of a shared database between sfgate.com and the paper Chronicle, the paper Pink Section listed, then removed, the Purgatorio listing for its April 14 edition.
According to your submission guidelines, shows are listed "on a space-available basis as a free public service." So the *San Francisco* Chronicle didn't have "space-available" to tell *San Francisco* that the second production in the entire United States of a play by a major playwright is being mounted by a local production company with local actors in *San Francisco*?
(This doesn't even get into the issue of why no reviewer from the Chronicle has come to the production. Although we sent them press releases, if your critics only read your own paper, they may not have a clue the show is running.)
Theatre Bay Area in effect charges for listings by limiting its listings to "members" who have paid the yearly dues. Although our company has been a TBA member since its inception in 2003, and the individuals within the company for much longer, we have continually experienced difficulty in getting our productions listed since our first show in 2003, ironically a show written by the same author as Purgatorio. (The failure with Purgatorio is particularly striking because TBA has made great fanfare about trying to raise the recognition of Bay Area theatre nationally.)
And we are not alone; TBA routinely omits or botches listings. To make up for it, TBA sends out an e-mail to its members regarding the shows, a policy instituted after we strenously complained about the fiasco with the listing of our first show in 2003. However, those e-mails necessarily reach a smaller audience than the print publication. In any case, TBA has failed to include an announcement in all its weekly e-mail updates as promised since omitting our listing from the April 2007 issue.
In another bizarre event, laudatory comments by someone (Josie) who saw Purgatorio and became an instant fan were deleted from zvents.com. Zvents investigated this incident and found the comments were deleted by some software glitch, but zvents never reposted the comments.
We do not understand what is happening with the theatre press in and around San Francisco. Perhaps, the Bay Area, and particularly San Francisco, is no longer hospitable to good theatre.