It has not been a good couple of days for the Bard and the new fangled interweb. Perhaps the ghost of Will Shakespeare has been haunting various theatrical servers, but for good or for bad it does show that the lad from Stratford still has huge box office draw.
Friday saw the RSC open priority booking for its Full Members and Friends for its 50th Anniversary Season. As soon as the appointed hour approached word began to spread online that all was not well in the state of Denmark Startford. The RSC website soon crashed under the weight of traffic. Those that did manage to access the site reported problems with seat selection and checkout with ticket purchases taking over an hour, not much help when ticket selections expire after a 30min time limit.
By the middle of the afternoon the RSC had published an apology online, however with a growing number of RSC members venting their anger online the damage had already been done. Facebook, Twitter and discussion boards such as Whatsonstage all carried calls to join a concerted membership cancellation. By the end of the day a limited booking service seemed to have resumed, although problems still continue, and many members seem appeased to have finally got their tickets.
As Saturday dawned, and Shakespeare fans woke content in the knowledge of securing their RSC tickets, the restless spirit of Will went to mischievous work again. As David Tennant and Catherine Tate appeared on BBC Breakfast TV it soon became clear that their much rumoured Much Ado About Nothing was confirmed. This news seemed to catch box office staff at Delfont Mackintosh slightly by surprise. The lucky few customers who raced online quickly secured their prized tickets. Things soon turned sour though as the website crashed, again under the volume of traffic. For most of the day the site returned error messages saying the ‘Delfont Mackintosh is currently unavailable’.
False hope dawned on several occasions as bookings progressed only to crash at the final checkout. Again tales of the carnage spread online as tales of success only fuelled the anger of those still stuck in online limbo. Personal callers to the Wyndham’s also reported problems; customers being dispatched for cash as credit card systems crashed.
In the grand scheme of things it’s only a theatre ticket and as things calm down today it looks like there are still seats available for both the RSC and Much Ado.
It does show however though that organisations do need to look at their IT infrastructure and have some back up plan in place should it all fall over.
If the ghost of Shakespeare is causing havoc online the good folks over at The Globe must have their fingers crossed that his mischief making has worn itself out by the time their season opens for public booking on Valentines Day.