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New Audiences

How to get them and keep them

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#31 fringefan

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 04:47 AM

As someone who almost invariably goes alone, I'm not sure I agree with KevinUK's suggestion that I am prepared to put up with a poorer view simply because I am the only person who will experience it.  But yes, it's true that by going alone you don't risk anyone else's enjoyment or money and can get up and go if something is really dire.

What does concern me is cost:  the price of my train fare sometimes exceeds that of the cheaper tickets I buy and usually at least matches ticket cost or adds a substantial proportion of it.  So absolutely no programmes, meals, drinks and goodness knows what else on top!  If I see two plays in one day to save on expense, and aim for deals/previews/early booking or whatever reduces the price, I'm probably still looking at a minimum of £60, which is a lot on a pension.  Now if there was a way to save on fares as part of a deal...

#32 Latecomer

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 07:49 AM

I have recently found that it is great fun to go with forum people, especially if you are not too sure whether the play will appeal to people! I either book 2 tickets (if it is possible to return tickets eg National, RSC) and message them to ask if they fancy or book my ticket and tell them when I am going. No obligation...they either say yes or no! It is very relaxing as you know they are real theatre fans and only go to stuff they fancy, so no pressure on a play being good that you have recommended! It is lovely to have someone to chat to about the production! Doesn't even matter if we are sitting together as when you are in the middle of a play you are alone anyway!
I save the mainstream plays for friends and relatives who don't go so much, so expect a fantastic production or they would be disappointed!
Early booking definitely reduces costs...I bet we all have Grandage in the bag for next year and with Young Vic Changeling, Globe standing, behind the pillars at Almeida, ditto Pinter, front rows at Royal Court and now glorious Zoe at £10 it can be very reasonable! I am also not adverse to day seating, although coming from Oxford it does take a bit of effort! I do like a good front stalls seat though as I feel very disconnected from the play if I sit too far away!

#33 Kathryn2

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 08:26 AM

I would actually agree that being a really regular theatre goer means going on your own sometimes, just because it's often difficult to co-ordinate other people to go with you. I would have missed some great productions I really enjoyed if I didn't go on my own, just because I'd have still been waiting for my friends to be free by the time they closed.

But this thread is about new audiences. I wonder how many new people we have taken to the theatre, between us? I can think of at least 4 new people I've gone to various productions with who wouldn't have gone at all otherwise.

#34 peggs

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 06:43 PM

I think i've taken 5 and have actively encouraged several others. I find there are lots of people who say oh tell me next  time you're going and i'd like to come but the point is that when you book, and as reguars it's often early or very quickly as deals come up it is difficult to pin people down. I rarely find the flexibility over date or price that i'm prepared to make to get tickets. Like Latecomer i've bought an extra ticket before and then found a home for it, but the pressure does tell, I never relax in the same way as i worry if they'll like it.

#35 fringefan

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 07:41 PM

I do agree about the sense of pressure if you go with someone else who is either an infrequent or a new theatregoer.  Thinking about why I go when my contemporaries (for instance) don't, I'm sure they've had the same or similar introduction to theatre-going (viz school trips or maybe an annual family visit to a panto) and the same opportunities to continue of their own volition since. So maybe it's simply preference.  After all, I know how resistant I'd be if, for instance, a football fanatic tried to persuade me to give a game a go.  I'd be thinking "Are you mad?  I know what it would be like and it isn't for me."  And before anyone suggests this, let me say that I once did exactly that, and now it's a case of "No thank you - tried that and once was enough."

#36 Latecomer

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 07:57 PM

View Postfringefan, on 08 November 2012 - 07:41 PM, said:

  After all, I know how resistant I'd be if, for instance, a football fanatic tried to persuade me to give a game a go.  I'd be thinking "Are you mad?  I know what it would be like and it isn't for me."  And before anyone suggests this, let me say that I once did exactly that, and now it's a case of "No thank you - tried that and once was enough."
Went once, first game Manchester United had a new manager in charge, Alex Ferguson. Oxford beat them 2-1. That was it ....never again. Not for me thank you kindly! Good bragging rights though!

#37 KevinUK

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 09:27 PM

View Postfringefan, on 08 November 2012 - 04:47 AM, said:

As someone who almost invariably goes alone, I'm not sure I agree with KevinUK's suggestion that I am prepared to put up with a poorer view simply because I am the only person who will experience it.  But yes, it's true that by going alone you don't risk anyone else's enjoyment or money and can get up and go if something is really dire.

I see a lot of shows solo too, and whilst I love a great view (and firmly believe the front of the stalls is the best place), I find I'm more open minded and likely to accept a less expensive ticket with perhaps a compromised view, than I would be if I suggested to a friend that we go to the theatre.

In 4 years of living in London, and 2 years of serious theatre going (around 80 shows last year, and I guess around the same number for the end of 2012), I've never paid more than £40 for a seat - in fact the most expensive ticket I've bought was for Phantom in January this year at £37.50 for front row (I did pay £60 for Wicked back in 2006, but that was during a weekend trip to London).

Personally I begrudge paying huge amounts for a theatre show, but without researching, learning and understanding how the west end works, I wouldn't have seen as much as I have. I think day seats are just the biggest bargains going, especially when I compare paying less than £20 to watch huge stars act for 3 hours, to buying a Madonna concert ticket at £210 a go (which she charged in 2009), or Beyonce tickets (£100).

Yet, I have admitted defeat and will most likely buy a full price ticket for Viva Forever. They told e when tickets went on sale they would be operating a lottery system on the day, but I've not heard talk of this anywhere. But I will buy it begrudgingly as the Spices themselves were only £75 a ticket back in 2008, and they won't even be in this show!
If I stay awake, it must be good.

#38 VDCNI

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 09:13 AM

I'm lucky that I have 3 or 4 friends who will happily go with me so for all the reasonably priced theatres - National, Donmar etc - I just book ages in advance and sort out who wants to come to what nearer the time.

West end stuff is trickier I normally have to sort that out before booking for the big events and then wait and see on offers for everything else. It helps that I live near Richmond so I can go to a lot of West End stuff for lower prices, best seats for A Long Day's Journey Into Night were less than £30 there for example.

#39 Becky La Rou

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 11:58 AM

I have lived in London for 5 years since moving in 2007 to study for a Drama and Theatre Arts degree.

Yes I know what you ware thinking, I was already interested in Theatre so it's no surprise I actually took the time to attend! What I will say for my University (Goldsmiths), they never ever organised theatre trips or even encouraged groups of students to club together and go, which is retrospect pretty appalling!  If an arts university can't think to support the arts then who will!

I still attended theatre of course, but I was restricted to shows that had major discounts, so I always had to wait a fair while before something opened to be able to see it! I signed up to the  Cheap Theare Tickets mailing list so I was always in the know. Now I can afford to pay full price, although it is still good for shows I am not too fussed about but feel like I should see (I paid £12 for a Shrek ticket...don't judge me!)

I think what Grandage is doing is fantastic and as soon as I heard I snapped up 3 £10 tickets! Similarly I am a member of audience club, where tickets are only £2.50 for a load of Off West End (but pretty great) shows. I would recommend anyone who isn't sure about theatre to sign up to audience club because you can try new things without breaking  the bank (I got [name of show deleted] tickets for £2.50 but the less said about that shambles of a production the better!)

However I am starting to suspect the issue is not just money, it's time. People these days don't really seem to have the time for something new, which is a shame! I sometimes get free tickets to shows with my job (which I am delighted with as I am a regular theatre goer as it is!) but it is still difficult to get someone out of their houses on a cold tuesday night to try something new and see a show with me! Although whenever I do manage I feel like the reaction is positive ! I managed to convince my mum  to come to London and see War Horse with me and she hasn't stopped talking about it since! I am now trying to convince her and her friends to come to the city and see more shows. Although I think that the prospect of there being so many is daunting. I looks a bit blergh but I found a website www.officialtheatre.com which has lists all of the theatres with what show they have and their box office numbers next to them which I think could be useful!

I understand what a few of you mentioned about 'star' casting helping people to engage with characters, but personally I hate it when someone could fulfill the role better is jilted to make way for someone who once ate a bug on 'I'm A Celebrity'. If anyone saw former strictly contestant, Russle Grant in The Wizard of Oz then you will know what I am talking about! It shouldn't have to be that way.

Hm. I wonder what the answer is? How to get the average person interested enough to see a show for the first time? Perhaps events like the Edinburgh Fringe Festival help? I took my boyfriend (not a thespian at all!) for the first time this summer..we even saw some 'comedy' shows he wanted to see mixed in with a list of theatre shows that I wanted and he now is way more receptive to coming along with me. Perhaps the Fringe was a non intimidating (or maybe non elitist?) environment for one to enter into theatre without any previous knowledge??  Perhaps London could benefit from a Fringe like festival :S

SO to conclude I think the issues are:
1) Arts schools/ organisations need to encourage trips more. I feel a little underwhelmed by the exposure my THEATRE degree gave me to actual theatre.
2) People need to be more willing to give up an evening to try something new
3) People need something to help them choose out of the multitude of shows out there/ there need to be more sites like that official theatre that lay all the information out clearly

Positives:
1) Discount sites (+ TKTS booth) and special priced seasons like Grandage's are definitely a positive thing as people won't have to break the bank to try something new
2) Non intimidating ways to try new theare - eg arts festivals  ,...maybe more perfomances like West End live?


What do you guys think about that?
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#40 craftymiss

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 12:44 PM

Well done to all on here for coming up with some brilliant comments ref trying to get new audiences into shows.  I'm an English teacher & have often asked to organise trips for staff & students but with staff no one can agree on a date or show. When I picked a show & date there werent enough wanting to go to warrant a discount.  With students they are always happy to go however our school will not allow students to go out during a school day (so even a matinee is a no no), the cost of travel costs is huge; £475 for a small coach to go from Wiltshire to London. That means approx £11 per child assuming you can get 40+ kids to go.  Also its v expensive for parents to fork out £40+ for their kids in today's economic climate.
I really wish there was some sort of loyalty card where you can accumulate points towards going to the theatre. Within the family we have an ATG card & a card for The Mayflower in Southampton so we can get early bookings/no booking fees but I feel sure there could be more done.  I go to allsorts of theatre; plays, musicals, fringe, local but I'm a massive Les Miserables fan and go v often especially to see different performers in different roles, understudies, casts changes etc.  Within the first 6 months of this year I had seen it over 18 times (yes I know I'm sad), this is a tremendous effort for me as I have to dash from work for the train plus get home at 0130 the following day, but I love the show enough to see it this many times. I once actually enquired at the Box Office at Queens as to whether they do any offers ie buy 10 get one free (I klnow the cheek of it) and they looked horrified.  I suppose they dont have to think about filling seats as they pretty much fill themselves.
I think you're right about making the comittment to go as it's a huge time thing hence I often go on my own or take one or two of my kids if it isnt mid week.  
I'm not a fan of stunt casting but if it gets people who wouldnt normally go to the theatre in through the doors then I will try to look on it as a positive thing.  I didnt see JCS as I didnt like the main performers but I know 2 people who have never been to a show (although it was more of an arena event than show) who enjoyed it and have also independently booked to see SITR and Viva, so probably JCS has helped get bums on seats elsewhere.




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