DIAGNOSIS: Small theaters are starving for audiences, to the point where some admit anyone off the street, for free, just to fill seats. Even excellent productions close early or regularly cancel performances.
CURE: 1. The Bryant-Lake Bowl/Patrick's Cabaret/7th St. Entry approach: Serve beer and food; create evenings of theater and live music; allow people to smoke; try to create a theatergoing scene as vital as the open-mic subculture. 2. Form a small-theater think tank. In fact, after years of talking about it, in 1997 a coalition of small, independent theater companies did form an alliance (tentatively known as the Tip of the Iceberg) to discuss audience-building strategies and share mailing lists and technical help, and perhaps even fundraising power. Let's hope there's strength and wisdom to be found in numbers.
DIAGNOSIS: When was the last time you got titillated or aroused by a local play or musical? It doesn't happen very often because Minnesotans are decent folks, and decent folks don't like to have their libidos charged up in public. What a shame.