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Age Of Audiences At Plays

The end is nigh

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#1 Lynette

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 10:54 AM

In the Relatively Speaking thread in Plays, there is mention of the age of the audience, old! I often refer to this as I am concerned that plays are not marketed to younger people. Schools have to concentrate on Shakespeare or on the syllabus plays and thank goodness companies take note of that. As you Like It was bursting with groups and families and it was a production well designed for them and for everyone. Too many kids 'study' a play without ever seeing it, including Shakespeare. And some don't see a play at all, never mind what it is. And I'm not talking the deprived from sink estates only.

Last night at A Mad World My Masters, I was probably one of the younger people there. Honestly, I counted 12 people under 30. The rest of us all on free Oyster cards I promise you! This is a play which the director says is the filthiest he has ever read. It is oozing appeal to young people, right down to savvy teenagers who would enjoy it. I felt ever so slightly disturbed by the young people on the stage doing their stuff for an old audience, like patronage of the worst kind. How on earth do we persuade the young people to go to the theatre more? We guys all go to the theatre many times in a year. Some go maybe once a year.  

Incidentally not a problem at Othello at National. Praise be. So a complex problem? Babysitting, cost, transport, lack of marketing, risk factor if duff show?

#2 Deal J

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 11:25 AM

I think price has to be one of the reasons - when I was younger I often wanted to see plays but, as a fan of musicals first, could only afford to see one thing every two months or so. As ticket prices for plays started to escalate to similar levels as musicals, I would only go to a play if it was an absolute must-see for me (i.e. no risk).

With so much information to hand via the internet on deals and more awareness of day-seats I hope things do change, but even in my late thirties I still felt like a young whipper-snapper at Untold Stories and Private Lives.

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#3 Lynette

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 11:31 AM

So I'm getting that young people ( I am actually talking anything that moves under 40) prefer Musicals. Fair enough, lots of people on the Board here go to shows more than once, don't they. Can we get em over to plays? As for cost, the RSC isn't that expensive, is it? Someone else is talking about the vast budget the RSC commands. Maybe they should spend some on telly adverts, YouTube stuff, more media in general and targeted at young working people in company magazines, online forums, showing the vigour and the appeal of such shows as Mad World? I dunno, I'm not a PR person, just a punter wondering if plays theatre will survive my eventual demise.

#4 craftymiss

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 11:33 AM

As a teacher I know how many children don't go to theatre unless it's a school trip (and even then not). Yes schools get huge discounts but the cost of a coach to London from Wiltshire is £450+ so add £10 to the cost of transport plus insurance etc and it's difficult.  My school will not let students out during the school day to see anything as it takes away from curriculum time. If we don't encourage theatre goers when they are young then we will lose them. My own children have been going to theatres since v young; pantos, kids shows and now in their late teens see other shows with me. They are currently booked to see Curious Incident, Phantom & Barnum. My youngest (15yr old boy) loves Sonheim (yes I know) and Sweeney Todd and a recent concert of A Little Night Music were his idea of joy.
I agree however that ticket prices can make West End (and touring) shows prohibitively expensive. I utilise Kids Week and search for bargains, but generally bargains are mid week which is difficult to get kids out to on a school night.

#5 Honoured Guest

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 11:36 AM

Marketing which targets young people could put off older people, which would be unfortunate.

Untold Stories, Private Lives and Relatively Speaking don't sound attractive to young people.

Recently, National Theatre Wales and NeonNeon's Praxis Makes Perfect drew many young people.

#6 EmiCardiff

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 11:46 AM

It's a tricky one. For London, travel and accommodation costs are often prohibitive so perhaps 'branching out' into plays is seen as too risky for some young people?

Speaking as a youngish person (just about under 30) I went to plays first and musicals later, by pure coincidence so have always been about 50/50 in my viewing. That said my Mother, in her late 60s will get rather grumpy if I take her on too many theatre trips that don't include a musical! So swings and roundabouts a bit.

Places like the NT do better I think with their generous ticketing schemes for young people. I really admire NTW's recent work which has attracted a younger crowd (well some of them) and perhaps regional plays do better generally due to being 'on the doorstep' ?
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#7 Honoured Guest

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 11:49 AM

View Postcraftymiss, on 27 June 2013 - 11:33 AM, said:

My youngest (15yr old boy) loves Sondheim (yes I know)

This is a very good point. Theatre is an excellent way to address minorities, who feel alienated by most mass culture. It's exhilarating to see something that makes you go "Yes!" As another example, some people are keen on black theatre but disinterested in the rest. It's a real success for a piece of theatre to find a particular audience which is passionately interested in it. The NT Connections annual programme is excellent in presenting plays written for and performed by young people. Most young people are looking for an experience which broadens their horizons, gives them a buzz and speaks directly to them, and it would be hard to market Relatively Speaking, etc. along those lines.

#8 dude-1981

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 11:57 AM

It's mainly money I'd suggest.  Free Oyster Cards & TV Licenses for people with final salary pensions and then you have my generation who are seeing their final salary pension removed (or a dream in the first place), pay frozen and the thought of buying a home somewhere where they would want to live as an impossible dream. Oh, and a student loan to pay off as well.
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#9 jaqs

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 12:03 PM

I'm still under 40 :)  I think I first went to a play at 15, alone, it was local and dad was taxi for the night.
Probably I only saw half a dozen plays in my 20s, none when at uni, though I did use the manchester theatres generous student ticket pricing for musicals. Now I go  to a lot, but probably as many visits to musicals.

The starrier the event the younger the audience, especially with cheap tickets? The donmar westend season had loads of families in the balcony. Trafalgar transformed the monday I went to macbeth it was packed with schools, not so much for The Hot House but it was a bank holiday.
And there are tonnes of kids waiting at the stage door for Daniel Radcliffe, dont know how many are in seeing the play (seemed a bit early when I went by).

Hows the audience for Curious Incident of the dog?

#10 Honoured Guest

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 12:11 PM

View Postdude-1981, on 27 June 2013 - 11:57 AM, said:

It's mainly money I'd suggest.  Free Oyster Cards & TV Licenses for people with final salary pensions and then you have my generation who are seeing their final salary pension removed (or a dream in the first place), pay frozen and the thought of buying a home somewhere where they would want to live as an impossible dream. Oh, and a student loan to pay off as well.

Yes, but ... your generation are happy to pursue other pleasures, more expensive than theatregoing.




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