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Attracting A Younger Crowd To Theatre


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#1 hotshot

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 04:31 PM

Hi guys,

I'm interested to get views on this topic - i'm 25 and going to the theatre is something that i enjoy. However, it's clear that the majority of theatre goers fit into an older, more distinguished, category.

Why is this so? Is it the costs? Is it the notion that theatre is "uncool" ?

What do you think can be done to rectify this? I note the concessions for students and day seats just for younger theatre patrons but is this enough?

#2 Epicoene

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 08:26 PM

I don't think it needs rectifying. I don't think Justin Bieber needs to attract more pensioners either.

#3 Jon

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 08:30 PM

Theatres generally attracts an older audience because they're the ones who can afford to go on a regular basis but I think having £10-12 tickets has helped either as day seats or as the lower priced point.

#4 Epicoene

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 08:43 PM

Justin Bieber fills the O2 with young people and the tickets cost far more than 10 each. How come ?



#5 Honoured Guest

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 09:23 PM

Most young people like to mix with their peers and to participate in current youth culture. Most theatre appeals to a much wider audience range than just to young people, and that can itself be offputting to the young, who like the affirmation of their peers' approval and the company of their peers.

It's hard for theatres to build up mass awareness because they have such limited audience capacity. Some theatres, such as the Young Vic, put an incredible amount of effort into giving informed access to their local communities but generally most people aren't aware of what's on offer in theatres. I suppose that The Book of Mormon is a theatrical equivalent of Justin Bieber, in the sense that both have achieved mass awareness, but most of their audiences are equally unlikely to steep themselves in the broader worlds of live theatre or live music respectively because you need a strong interest and excellent appropriate guidance to best find your way around.

It's great when some theatre does manage to attract and engage a significant youth audience because young people should be keen to question everything and to expose themselves to new experiences, and that's what a lot of theatre aims to do.

Participation is an excellent way to develop a lively interest in drama, which may later involve theatregoing.

Of course, much theatre is "dead" and puts off first-time theatregoers for the rest of their lives.

#6 FireFingers

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 09:44 PM

I think it is a question of time and income. Although Bieber tickets aren't cheap, most people who go to see him only go to such an event once a year. Theatre goers go several times a year. Young people also tend to have too much going on to plan several theatre trips.

Also, young people only tend to see pantos and dry plays they have been studying for English GCSE, which puts many off. I didn't care about musical theatre before my friend got me the Wicked OBC Recording.

Young person deals are helping, but it's not really a market that is there, bar special shows like Avenue Q, Mormon etc, which work on a different level to Les Mis and Phantom.

#7 hotshot

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 10:18 PM

I see everyones point but to me going to the theatre is like going to the movie. Except its live. and more expensive.

I think FireFingers that you make a good point that a lot of time theatre is associated to boredom ie studying. I remember when i was in English in high school and we went to see that scottish play.

I have to agree that i've been to some plays / musicals that I just didn't quite get it (ie Bingo at the Young Vic).

I disagree that nothing should be done though! Otherwise wouldn't that mean the end of theatre when the younguns become older?

#8 Nicholas

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 11:18 PM

You know, I've tried to be brief but there's loads in this, so I'm sorry.

Firstly, with dry plays, if that's the case, how to undo that?  At our school we once saw something so bad our teacher gave us a free trip to another show.  But other than over-generous teachers with taste, what?  Genuinely, this is something I don't know.  I was lucky in the plays I experienced when young and, mostly, I still experience.  We went to Stratford to see Greg Hicks' King Lear - not a fan, nor were most of my class.  I was lucky enough, though, to see Jacobi just a month or two before, and Redgrave a few years before, and thus couldn't think of it as dry.  How about one compulsary trip to the theatre to a play that's not on the syllabus or relevant, that just might affect people.  Maria Miller?

With youth culture, well, Jerusalem had people of all ages queuing round the block.  'Theatre' is and isn't youth culture.  The Winslow Boy isn't, Curious Incident is.  In the same way, you can't say 'films' are youth culture.  Twilight 5 was released on the same day as Michael Haneke's Amour.  Is that a bad thing?  Abso-bloody-lutely not.  I think regular theatregoers might be more willing to stick their neck out because I rarely read people here say "I would see this but sadly I don't go for youth culture", or "It sounds a bit too grown up for me".  Theatre has a lot more overlap between youth culture and, well, culture.  Even so, some shows just touch a collective youthful nerve, and young theatregoers are often that bit more adventurous.  Plus, I'm 20 and only saw one of those two films - hint: not undead, just dead.

Oh, and with regards to how much time young people have - there's always enough for a trip to the theatre.  Depending on where you live, it's not that long.  The only thing, with regards to youth culture, is a lot of people would rather spend their Saturday night in a club than in a theatre.  If people prefer that it's their life to live.  Theatre's not 'youth culture' in the way clubs are.  Perhaps I'm missing out on all the sex and drugs and rock and roll of student life and actually I'm doing it wrong - where people I know spent Valentines Day drunk on the prowl, I was alone at the Barbican watching Ionesco in French.  I wouldn't have swapped places for anything.  That's very much temperament and nothing can be done about that!

Awareness?  Maybe if the BBC had, say, a slightly better attitude to theatre than shunting The Review Show from weekly on a Friday at 11:30 on BBC2 to monthly on BBC4 that'd be less of a problem.  Not that I think that's a stupid move or that the better thing to do would have an 8:30 slot dedicated to the theatre.  But that's the biggest scandal at the BBC in years.

There was that board about trailers for theatre which are universally actors talking about acting in a play.  The trailer for Peter and Alice is dry and uneventful (so I guess accurate).  The poster for Mies Julie has appeal.  That's the sort of thing.  A good show, hopefully 4* and 5* reviews to plaster on and something that would make you, were you not a regular theatregoer, take a step back.

A big problem is not everyone's that bold going alone.  I know lots of people who'd never dream of getting on a train unaccompanied.  That's just people being themselves.  I can't judge, theatre's can't change them, you've just got to hope they fall in with the right crowd.  It's a shame, since going alone's a great pleasure - I prefer it (I do have friends, but why they like me I don't know) - but people just feel like they feel.

Very importantly, the money.  CHEAP SEATS ARE GREAT.  But cheap seats do not make a theatregoer, they make a regular theatregoer.  No-one who wasn't interested in The Winslow Boy will be interested by £10 tickets.  Someone who was interested by The Winslow Boy but also had to budget rent and food and uni supplies will be interested by £10 tickets.  Thus cheap tickets are an absolute necessity for theatres in getting in audiences and encouraging audiences, but won't make an audience.

Finally, theatre's been going years and years and years.  Somehow it'll muddle on.  Park Theatre wouldn't be opening in a week without the need for more theatres.  Unless I've been ignoring it - perfectly possible - theatre in places like Sheffield or Manchester has never been so vibrant.  There's really a market for it.  There are loads of us young folk on here who'll go to the new Alan Bennett or the newest Shakespeare revival.  It'll muddle through.  I refuse to believe that the audiences who made A Doll's House or Jerusalem or are making Othello a sellout are all close to death and in a year after their demise the theatre will crumble.

Very sorry to ramble.

#9 Epicoene

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 07:13 AM

View PostNicholas, on 25 April 2013 - 11:18 PM, said:


Firstly, with dry plays, if that's the case, how to undo that?  

You don't. It is like saying "Rembrandts paintings are a bit dull and brown - how to undo that ?". Here is a question for you: at the Young Vic "Dolls House" several young people in the audience wolf whistled every time there was an on-stage kiss. How to undo that ?

There is a currently modish idea that several arts organisations which attract an older audience need to attract the exact opposite - this stricture has been applied to Radio 4 for example. However, the reverse condition has not been applied to Radio 1. Why ? Some arts will always appeal preferentially to a different group of people - so what ?

#10 Abby

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 07:59 AM

I always liked theatre from a young age but I go far, far more often now than I did when I was in my teens and early 20s - reasons probably were: not organised enough to get tickets; social life revolved around the pub; less confident about going by myself; self-conscious about being young and common amidst the largely old and posh; less disposable income.




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