Friday, January 8, 2010

$20 Day Trips

Posted by Bruce Miller
On my home computer, I use MSN as my home page (start page?, web portal?). It's what pops up when I connect to the Internet. It's not so much a choice. I think, at first, it was what came with one of my original computers. Now it's what I'm used to.

Every time I sit in front of my screen and connect, right in the middle of the screen are three alternating images, each of which appears for about eight seconds before transforming to the next. Each image is an invitation and entryway to that day's three featured articles or links or whatever one calls the content offered by MSN. Click on the image and you go to the article.

Usually there's a "tough" article about sports, heart attacks or investments, and a "tender" article about fashion, celebrities or America's Ten Happiest Cities, and then a "family" article (usually kid friendly) about vacation spots, teen idols or x-games.

Often one or more of the articles will earn at least my initial click.

This morning I clicked on "10 $20 Day Trips" and the link took me to MSN Local for a slightly creepy article by Rebecca Schoenkopf, who, I was informed in the tag line that appeared at the end of the article, is the author of Commie Girl in the OC from Verso Books.

I won't be rushing out to get a copy.

Commie Girl recommended that I consider the following "Day Trip" ideas:

Go to your local luxury spa, spend $20 for a "day pass," and lie around in a cozy robe in a softly lit room listening to the water features and watching other people go to and from the scrub facials and seaweed shiatsu massages that are apparently available on a pay-as-you-go basis. I'll pass.

I was sort of interested in visiting my state's hot springs (it's been a while since we've driven to Bath County), and taking an "architecture tour" of a nearby historic building (we've never taken the kids to Mt. Vernon, which has to be breaking some sort of Virginia law). But each of those outings will set me back by a lot more than $20.

I'll crawl on my belly over broken glass before taking a "tour of foreclosed homes," spending an afternoon with Chuck E. Cheese, hopping on GRTC and transferring from bus to bus until I've covered the entire city, and/or visiting a variety of going-out-of-business sales.

Probably my favorite among Commie Girl's suggestions were visiting my local zoo (either Maymont or the funky one in Chesterfield), making the rounds of estate sales, and/or taking a train trip to Ashland or Fredericksburg and back, getting off and spending a few hours strolling through these nearby towns.

But again, if I go with Terrie and/or the kids, I gotta believe that the train trip alone will cost a lot more than two Alexander Hamilton's.

Anyway, Commie Girl got me thinking. What can Barksdale and Theatre IV offer to seniors, families, and/or couples who are looking to entertain themselves for a few hours, close to home, for not much money?

We already have our Rostov's Coffee & Conversations programs, and our Barksdale Bifocals monthly meetings. I'll write a full blog post about those two "freebie" series in a day or two.

But are there other cool ideas?

Here are five quick thoughts for Community Connection programs that we could offer cheaply, that may be fun and help us cast a wider net. Each program should be doable for under (in some cases significantly under) $20 per person.

I hope you'll give me more ideas, if you've got 'em.
  1. A scripted, costumed tour of historic Hanover Tavern and the Courthouse community, with multiple "character" guides
  2. The same at the historic Empire Theatre and Jackson Ward, focusing on the fascinating and diverse cultural history of that neighborhood

  3. A guided tour of Barksdale and Theatre IV's costume collection, held in our new costume storage facility, and led by Sue Griffin and her talented staff

  4. Lunchtime matinees of one act plays, professionally produced and performed on Barksdale's lobby stage, followed by a catered lunch at our Tavern tables (two hours total)

  5. A pack-your-own lunch and eat while you listen program (or buy a box lunch at one of the seven fast food eateries with which we share a parking lot) featuring the artists of the current production talking about what they're up to

Each of these outings, I hope, would be a heck of a lot more enticing that taking a tour of foreclosed homes.

Whether you're coming to see a play or one of our ancillary programs, I hope to see you at the theatre!

--Bruce Miller


Dave T said...

Your suggestions, particularly the two lunchtime offerings, sounds great. Also, I don't know if it's manageable for under $20 a head but it seems like your "camp in" program for children -- stay overnight at the Empire, enjoys theater-related activities led by theater folks -- was very popular last fall. Could that happen on a more regular basis?

And this may be production-specific but could you do an "evening with the Von Trapp family" this Spring/Summer? Dinner at the Willow Lawn location with a short preview/talkback about the show?

philcrosby said...

Bruce --

Back in the old VMT days (Sue G might remember these) we did actual fashion shows of theater costumes in area restaurants. It was a great way to "show off" some of the more astounding creations, and all the "models" were actors and staff who carried promotional materials.

So maybe a $20 Homemades by Suzanne lunch with a wonderful narrated fashion show?

Anonymous said...

Bookmarked this. Thanksgiving owing to you after sharing. Unequivocally value my time.

Angela said...

Bruce, this is why I love your blog--what's better than hearing other people's ideas and being asked to contribute one's own?! I particularly like your ideas 1 through 3, although I think #3 would be a harder sell to a broad audience.

What about a self-guided adventure-hunt among all 3 Barksdale locations, kind of like what Ravenchase does but on a smaller scale? I've never participated in a Ravenchase hunt, so I don't exactly know how they work, but I'm imagining a series of coded clues that could be answered with available information during regular business hours, relating to the buildings themselves and possibly to the current productions (if there were posters, programs, etc. that could be scoured for answers).

Once VMFA opens up again, this same thing would be really cool do do among the Museums on the Boulevard.

And Bruce, I think if you got yourself in the right frame of mind, you'd find a day of GRTC riding really fascinating.
An afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese-- that's something else, but if you take a young kid who wants to go, sometimes the sacrifice is worth it to see their happiness.