Well, some folks called it "Pay What You Can" or "Pick Your Price" and one newspaper came up with "Pay As You Go", which sounds like a whole other bizarre and interesting idea. (Pay $X for the first act, if you like it, pay $X more for the second act.) Anyway...
Dead City was - by a long shot - the most popular show we've every produced. We beat our previous record for a run by almost 200 people. And we actually had fewer performances of this show than most. Wow.
However, we were told by a whole lot of people that PWYW was the reason they came to the show, and the numbers bear-out the fact that people were ready for the opportunity. We had a lot of people paying far below our normal prices, even down in the $2-5 area. THAT'S A GOOD THING, because, I'm guessing most of those folks wouldn't have been there if it was a $10 or $20 ticket. And, their seats would definitely have been empty if they weren't there to fill them. Balancing it out from the other end of the spectrum, we had a ton of people paying the normal $20 or even more.
A few tidbits:
We also saw a big increase in the number of student-aged patrons, and repeat patrons, and student-aged repeat patrons. And, of course, our overall income was really great because of the sheer size of the crowds. I gotta think that the ticket policy gave people a good, solid reason to tell their friends and do a little word of mouth marketing for us. So, despite the fact that we spent a heck of a lot more money than usual, we may actually break even, or even make money this time. I guess our risks paid off. Go us.
So, we feel good and proud. We had a great time doing PWYW and it helped turn our show into a success. We definitely plan to stick with it.
Thoughts? Specific questions? I'd love to hear from others who have tried this or are considering doing so.