Comedy Theatre Charges Audiences ‘Per Laugh’ Using Facial Recognition Tech
It's Pay as You Go for the theatre.
In an attempt to boost audiences, an independent theatre in Barcelona has introduced Pay As You Go to the comedy circuit. Rather than risking an advance ticket purchase and (for better or worse) taking the show as it comes, you're charged per laugh. That's right, the sorer your face muscles are when the curtain falls, the bigger your bill.
The scheme is a response to plummeting theatre attendance. Mid-last year, Spain's arts scene took one of its hardest hits ever when the government increased the tax on drama performances from 8% to 21%. Consequently, ticket sales dropped by a whopping 30% in just twelve months.
Rather than surrendering to despair or closing down altogether, Teatreneu, which boasts eight stages, looked for solutions. That's when they teamed up with ad agency the Cyranos McCann to invent 'Pay Per Laugh'. Facial recognition technology, attached to each seat, records every smile or laugh — and you pay €0.30 per expression recorded. If you're in a bad mood, hard to impress or incredibly self-controlled, you walk away with your bank account intact. If, however, you’re more easily amused, you're charged up to a maximum of €24.
The new scheme is truly great news for the performers. According to the promo video, the initiative saw most spectators pay €6 more than they normally would, and led to a 35% increase in crowds. They're contemplating expanding their emotional palette to include dramatic theatre 'Pay Per Cry' fees and our favourite idea, 'Pay Per WTF' — naturally, for performance art.
Published on October 10, 2014 by Jasmine Crittenden