What About Food Truck Theatre?

Pete Miller‘s got me thinking about new and different ways to “diversify theatre production,” “reinvent theatre marketing” and “create playgoing as a hobby.”

What about food truck theatre?

What about theatre out of the side of a truck, or in the bed of a truck, with a simple but attractive set?
It could be short plays.  It could be commedia-style archetypal ongoing stuff, that’s easy for an audience to slip in and out of.  It could be short scenes from an upcoming full production as a kind of advertisement.  (Take that, poster on the side of a bus!  This is marketing in 4D!)  It could be psuedo-cabaret or improv; one truck could contain a whole roster of programs in completely different genres if you’ve got a small posse of versatile performers.

Downsides first:
Permits? Yeah, probably not, although theoretically keeping it in the truck makes it easier than plopping down and blocking the sidewalk busker-style.
Cost? Pretty costly.  The money people throw in your hat will cover gas if you’re lucky.
Timing?  To really get the crowds and the word out, you’d have to do it at lunchtime downtown – as if actors don’t have day jobs.
Environment? Not very green, tooling around the place in a gas-guzzler.

Upsides:
Accessibility! You can tweet your location in realtime and move around like food trucks do – fans can come to you/look forward to you coming to them.
Mobility! You can reach distant communities that are underserved without having to deal with finding infrastructure.  It’s the equivalent of a politician actually going and knocking on doors.  You’re ready all the time to just hop over to some random town’s random weekend festival.
Professionalism! Guerilla street theatre is great, but having a set – even just a quality backdrop or a painted vehicle – takes it up a dozen notches over the aforementioned plopping down on the sidewalk.  The imprimatur of officiality is worth something.
Local! Super local. Nothing’s differentiates theatre from film and internet than the localness of it.  What is more local than the theatre coming to you outside of a theater building?
Cool factor! Because trucks.

Bonus side thought: Ice cream truck theatre! Just for funsies, imagine theatre trucks like this jingling around neighborhoods, blasting blippy versions of showtunes, and folks run out of houses and go ‘oh! it’s the theatre people! quick, mom, bring a few bucks, let’s have all the neighbors over for an unexpected twenty-minute dose of theatre!’

Feasibility: Yes, very low. This is more a thought experiment. In what ways could theatre be more like food trucks, and benefit, without actually having to be put inside a truck?

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3 comments

  1. This is a fantastic idea. :D And though it would be hard to pull off, I think it’s more feasible than you give it credit for.

  2. I agree with everything except your conclusion that Ice Cream Truck Theatre wouldn’t work. That’s *exactly* how it worked in Shakespeare’s day— and as much as the world has changed, we’re still doing Shakespeare, ain’t we?
    Great idea.

  3. […] What if Playwrights Directed Their Own Development? Theatre Companies I Want to Form: 1 of 3 What About Food Truck Theatre? Why Doesn’t Theatre Advertise? Sister Cities, Sister Theatre Scenes Theatre Companies I Want to […]

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