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Has any of you ever tried this? What were the results and if they were good, how did you do it?
 

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Not me personally, but I had a hand in it and benefited from it:

Earlier this year, I was in a production of Everyman, a medieval morality play that we staged on a moving city bus (the logistics were pretty heinous, but it worked out). The show started in an upscale hotel downtown, and the audience boarded the bus just outside the lobby. One of my cast-mates was dressed as a bum and sat outside the hotel door (in the cold and snow most nights) with a little cardboard sign and a paper cup. He would get a few dollars before the show each night - he would specifically target people that were coming to see the play and for anyone else he would start shaking violently or do something to avoid taking their money. There were even a few cases where people would get off the bus just before the show started to give him some some cash. Later in the show, he came on the bus as a different character and would give the people their donation back, working it into his scene ("Hey, buddy, I'll pay you for your fries/seat/whatever" and then hand them their own money back). Most of them recognized him, some didn't until the end. At the end, the bus left the local cemetery (where the last scene took place). He played an undertaker at the end, and he and I (I played the Messenger, and intro'ed the play at the hotel and closed it at the cemetery) would get on the bus to ride back to the hotel with the audience. On the ride back, in full view of the audience, he changed out of the undertaker costume and back into the bum from the beginning. As I gave the final closing, he hobbled off the bus as the bum and sat back down by the hotel door again for the next show (we ran two shows a night since it was only around an hour per performance). THAT was when he got tons of donations from people in the audience after each show.

He was pretty convincing: the hotel staff treated it like a hazing ritual, making employees who didn't know about it go outside and tell him he had to leave the premises. An orthopedic surgeon even came in one night and told the front desk manager that he thought the bum outside was faking because he wasn't limping right...

OH, and we used the money from the after-show donations to buy beer for the cast/crew party. Considering it was a morality play, we thought about giving it to charity, but then, what better charity could there be than a bunch of starving (and far too sober) theatre people?
 
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