The city of Cincinnati has a greater metropolitan area population of approximately 1,764,000. That puts it up there with a handful of mid-size American cities – Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas – some of which boast a livelier and wealthier performing arts scene.
What makes Cincinnati distinct from those other cities is its being spread out over a large area that encompasses other communities, townships, and cities-within-the city, each with its own restaurants, movie theatres, community theatres, and other daytime and night-time attractions.
While Cincinnati boasts several major musical and dance institutions such as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Ballet, the Cincinnati May Festival, and the Cincinnati Opera, only one of the four of the city’s theatres may be considered as major in size and budget: the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, currently undergoing a major renovation expected to be finished in March of 2023.
For the smaller theatre organizations, among them the Cincinnati Shakespeare Theatre, the Cincinnati Ensemble Theatre, and the Know Theatre the challenge remains not only to continue business as usual but to entice the large audience that might work downtown but resides in suburban Mason, Madeira, and similar communities to drive downtown to see a show.
The Cincinnati Shakespeare Theatre and the Cincinnati Ensemble Theatre may be thought of as major, either by budget or artistic identity. Both range upwards in size and budget from the cutting edge Know Theatre (www.knowtheatre.com), a daring enterprise dedicated to the kind of plays that most other theatrical organizations won’t touch, like Sunrise Coven a comedy about witchcraft and such by Brendan Bourque-Sheil that kicks off its 25th season this August.
With a budget of just $880,000 and revenues of practical the same size, the KNOW manages to put on a six-play season that runs from mid-August to mid-May preceded by a month-long Fringe Festival in June – a feat that just might qualify the KNOW as the theatre that almost never sleeps. That and ridiculously inexpensive ticket prices that range from $5 on Wednesday evenings to pay what you think would be fair on many other nights, attract a particular following that is younger in size and more modest in discretionary income than that of other Cincinnati theatres. All of those additional qualifications should earn the KNOW’s entrance into Theatre Heaven, even while inhabiting our mortal world.
Rafael de Acha (c) 2022