Dear Broadway people who speak up against bootlegs
I love and respect you so much. I cherish your work more than I do any other kind of artist’s. And this is coming from someone with a degree in Art History, who teaches Art and Literature and has worked in the film industry. So I feel like I know a thing or two about Art.
I understand your point. And you know what? I actually hate watching bootlegs. But I love Art. If I can’t get to an exhibition or a museum, I buy a book or a print to look at the paintings. If I can’t go to a film festival, or a movie isn’t released in my country, I buy a DVD. But theater doesn’t offer anything like that.
I love theater. And where I live there’s almost no quality theater. Despite that I still spend a lot of money every year to support local theater, hoping that something will change. I’m going to a production of Cabaret on Saturday that I know will make me cringe, especially given the improbable adaptation of the songs into my language, but I’m still going.
There is an ocean between me and New York. And I hunger for good theater. I hunger for your work, your craft, you talent. There’s nothing I would love more than never having to watch a bootleg again. And you want that too. So please
make theater more available.
I got into musicals watching the official recordings of Sondheim’s shows, which I bought on DVD, paying more than any average fan from the US since I had to pay for international shipping too. Given the chance, I would watch a live production of Into the Woods or Company in a heartbeat. Owning an official recording of those shows didn’t change anything. I would still shower you with my money, even with every single show on Broadway available on DVD. But at least the DVDs would satisfy my hunger for your Art, and give me a legal chance to enjoy what you do even if my much dreamed-about trip to New York never becomes a reality.
Whenever I’m in London (I’m planning my 5th visit in January, and I plan my visits around shows) I spend almost all my money on theater. For shows that I know through bootlegs. On my first trip to London I spent more than 250$ on the best Book of Mormon seats available because years ago I fell in love with Gavin Creel watching a Mary Poppins bootleg. I felt terribly embarrassed when I met him at the stage door, because the lack of theater for fans from all over the world forced me to follow his career through something illegal. I would have bought a DVD of Mary Poppins, or Hair, or Millie, no matter the cost. I would have still spent 250$ on tickets to see him live in Book of Mormon. And I actually went back to Book of Mormon two other times, even without Gavin.
Bootleg sharing among fans doesn’t hurt you, because those of us who have a chance to buy a ticket still will. But it makes you rightfully angry, and it makes us miserable because of how bad the quality usually is. Having filmed shows doesn’t hurt anybody. You get money from the videos, we get to support your incredible talent with our money, and we will still spend an inordinate amount of money on tickets whenever we’re physically close to a show.
DVDs are not even the only option. A lot of London shows are filmed to be rented online for only a limited time. So you wouldn’t even have to worry about the show being spread around too much.
Everybody would get a little more Art in their lives, you would get richer, we would keep adoring you. It’s simple as that.