Experiential travel is more than a passing trend; it’s a sea change in the way people travel. Gone are the days when tourists were satisfied with passive and passing entertainment. Today, travelers want to do more than they want to see.
These group experience allow people to get ink on their hands while operating a century-old letterpress, get onstage during an improv comedy class and get a glimpse of what it’s like to rehearse for a Broadway show from a Broadway performer.
Hatch Show Print
Because Hatch Show Print has been in continued operation in Nashville since 1879, and because their printers do all the design in-house, a poster made today could — and does — use hand-carved wood or linoleum blocks that are 138 years old.
“Sometimes you’re using a hand-carved image block that was on a Kenny Rogers poster or a Dwight Yoakam poster or a Cyndi Lauper poster — you just don’t know,” said print shop manager Celene Aubry. “It’s all part of the fun of the connection, both to Nashville and to the history of the shop.”
In 2013, Hatch Show Print moved to its new location next to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, which now owns and operates the shop. The new space features a 5,800-square-foot production area where passers-by can watch printers at work; an expanded store where visitors can buy original Hatch posters; an art gallery that displays and sells restrikes of historic prints; and Hatch Show Print Space for Design, a classroom where groups can learn about letterpress printing and make their own pieces.
During a group tour, two guides take up to 25 people into the production shop where they “can see what’s coming off the presses that day,” Aubry said. One guide focuses on the history of Hatch and letterpress printing while the other places it in the context of Nashville and country music. The group then moves to the classroom, where guides help them hand-ink the third color of a three-color print — an “official poster” that Hatch designs specifically for the experience, with a new design each year. Guests get to take home their own 8-by-10-inch print, and “we even have locals who come and take the tour every year to make sure they get the new poster,” Aubry said.
New York City
Ever wonder what it would be like to perform on Broadway? New York City visitors can get a glimpse through experiences with Broadway Workshop. The company offers opportunities to work with Broadway performers and professionals, learning everything from vocal warm-ups to stage makeup.
The most popular experience for groups is the Broadway Rehearsal Workshop coordinated with a Broadway show they plan to see, such as “Wicked.” Broadway Workshop will bring in a music director to lead vocal warm-ups and sing a small selection from the show. After that, a performer, oftentimes one from the very show the group is seeing, will come in and teach staging and simple dance steps before hosting a Q&A session about what it’s like to be a performer living in New York City.
“We typically like to reach out to people currently in the show [the group is seeing] so they can see their teacher performing on the stage,” said groups director Yvette Kojic.
Students can take the workshop before or after a performance, and it works well either way for different reasons, she said. Doing it the afternoon before, guests will take what they’ve learned into the show with them. The day after, students may have more connection with the performer or the music.
Broadway Workshop can scale classes for small and large groups, from as few as eight people to more than 200. The company rents studio space, usually in midtown Manhattan; each studio holds 50 students, but the ideal class size is 25 to 30, Kojic said.
Groups can also sign up for a choir workshop that focuses on the chorale aspect or a dance workshop that teaches more advanced choreography. Other options include a stage combat class or a stage makeup session.