In 1978 I led a street team of San Jose State University drama students to New York City to promote guest performances of Wonderland Won at Theatre for the New City on the lower east side. There were a half dozen of us on the team, I don’t remember exactly who, but I know Art Ward was there, and Brian Conroy as well. Maybe Linda Rugg. There was nothing for it but to stay at the Chelsea Hotel. The moment we walked through those notorious front doors, we spied Michael J. Pollard nodding off (you know what I mean) in a lobby chair. Welcome to the Apple.
Well, when I say street team, that’s what I mean. Ellen Briggs prepped us with suitcases full of posters, handbills, and business cards. We worked the streets and the subway stations with our posters and handed out our handbills to perfect strangers. You know the life expectancy of a show flyer in NYC? Less than an hour. We’d paper a wall, come back the next day, and paper again. Our previous afternoon’s posters were about four layers down. On the subways, Art Ward drew attention to a spot on impersonation of my monkey. He’d get everybody laughing (or at least staring), and the rest of us would pass out cards and chat people up. Real hand-to-hand combat, this stuff. (To the tune of “Walk on the Wild Side”) And the monkey goes chee, cha chee, cha chee, cha chee chee.)
Theatre for the New City did not deliver the publicity they promised, so the first weekend audience were sketchy, to say the least. But by the second weekend, our street work brought in nice crowds. There’s an important lesson here, one I learned well: don’t depend on anyone else to do your publicity.
With great respect and affection, I thank the members of the Azriel Dancer Angels, our indomitable street team.
Chee, chee chee, cha chee, cha chee chee!