Chugging a glass of wine at intermission has long been a ritual for theatergoers, but Arena Stage is now encouraging patrons to drink at their seats as well. To kick off the new policy, Arena is going youthful by selling $2 cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer in the lobby.
Arena's policy had been evolving—”it first loosened in 2006 to allow people to drink bottled water in their seats. But audiences wanted more. Two contemporary plays with a more casual atmosphere—Equivocation and You, Nero—have given Arena, which inaugurated its new theater in Southwest DC a year ago, a chance to experiment.
Audiences have been pleased, says Arena's head of marketing, Neal Racioppo. The trend may catch on elsewhere, especially as venues strive to attract younger audiences.
Racioppo admits the policy won't fit all plays, but he hopes it will go well with January's Elephant Room, about three aging magicians.
"We want people to have the best experience they can," he says.
Could popcorn machines be next?
This article appears in the January 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.