I started working for Albuquerque Little Theatre in the fall of 1986. One of the most impressive views in the theater was the ticket office. Lining the walls were racks of tickets to every show on the season. Each rack had a slot for each row of seats in each section. In other words. Row O in the center was one slot, Row O on the left side and Row O on the right were the slots just to the left and right of Row O center. You could tell immediately where seats were available just by looking at the rack where all remaining tickets sat in their slots, face-up.

   All the tickets were pre-printed. These are called hard tickets in our business. To get them made, I typed out the ticket information carefully so there were no errors. I set up a price chart on a seating map so the ticket company could price the tickets accordingly. I mailed all that information away to a ticket company, waited a couple of weeks and then a package came in the mail. Our entire sales inventory came shipped to us in a box barely big enough for a toaster.

   All that was printed on the ticket was what I’d sent them about titles, days, dates, times, seats, prices and place. There might be a line in small type giving credit to the company that printed the tickets. That was it. Nothing on the back. Everything on one side of the ticket.

   Today’s ticket, by contrast, is printed at the time of sale. Once you’ve chosen the show, the performance and the seats you want, the ticket seller prints that ticket specifically for you. It still carries the basic information about your purchase — show title, date, time, etc. — but when you turn it over, you will likely find a couple of paragraphs spelling out the condition of sale. The lawyers got involved.

   Somewhere along the line, some patron at some unknown theater started challenging the norms of behavior customary to theater attendance. They started blaming theaters for any and all accidents that took place on their premises. They started claiming that theaters had no right to photograph them in that public space. They started assuming the right to photograph the show on the stage before them. That ticket now carries a couple of paragaphs that are the condition of sale and the compact between you and the theater. At ALT, those conditions were generally assumed by both sides.

   They still are generally assumed by most patrons at most theaters. But now most theaters spell them out, just in case.

Terry S. Davis
Popejoy Hall

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Comment by Krista on September 29, 2012 at 10:49pm

interesting!  I like the idea of the auditorium set up almost physically in the ticket booth.  :)

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