You can’t put a price on relief, but A.R.T. knows worth of women’s restroom stall

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Roughly half the occupants of seats at the Loeb Drama Center could soon have twice the number of restroom stalls. (Photo:  American Seating)
Roughly half the occupants of seats at the Loeb Drama Center could soon have twice the number of restroom stalls. (Photo: American Seating)

There’s so much to say about the Artistic Repertory Theater’s current crowdfunding campaign to double the number of stalls in its women’s restroom.

Yes, the $230,000 campaign – which has raised 67 percent of the needed funds with nine weeks to go to the Dec. 31 deadline – includes installing a better bar in the Loeb Drama Center’s West Lobby and some additional restroom work, men’s as well as women’s. But it’s the doubling of women’s stalls that the A.R.T. leads with in a recent fundraiser email and is by far the more interesting element.

“You’ve talked, and we’ve been listening,” the email says, although it also betrays the fact that the new bar was installed over the summer, which means the Diane Paulus-led drama center at Harvard actually prioritized filling women’s bladders over emptying them.

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The 556-seat theater at 64 Brattle St. opened in 1960, and since intermission lengths are rigid we must wonder if women might have attended drama in half the numbers then or had roughly twice the liquid retention abilities. (Or, of course, whether all the men were architects or any number of other factors are at play.)

But perhaps even more interesting is what this old-school, bricks-and-mortar structure has to say about online crowdfunding and the digital economy.

While donators of $25,000 or more get rewards of attending intimate gatherings with Paulus and  “leading artists in the field,” the prizes at lower levels of donation are more fleeting and somewhat less tangible: a “shout out” on Facebook for $25 or more and a thank-you tweet (plus Facebook shout out) for $50 or more.

Being mentioned on Facebook? Twenty-five dollars. Being tweeted about? Fifty dollars. Getting in and out of the women’s restroom in time for Act II? Priceless. (But less valuable than a new bar.)

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