The title of this post is pretty bold, but I feel under the circumstances there is every right to be bold, and brash. The theatre of the future, of even today needs to be saved from the middle classes. So why do I feel the need to state this? It boils down to the recent events that have occured in relation to several news papers (The Sunday Times, The Telegraph and The Mail) running articles on West End Theatres hiring Bouncers and Security to deal with the ongoing issues of ‘yobbish behaviour’ seen in the audiences.
This happens, and I myself having worked in a West End Theatre have witnessed what some audiences members are like after a little bit to drink and a swinging musical. At the theatre I worked at they have full time members of door security who regularly dealt with members of the general public who were upsetting other audiences members. This was most notable when audiences had been out drinking beforehand and believe they are going to witness a rock concert (it was We Will Rock You after all) The fact that it is a growing issue is where the problem lies.
I’m all for kicking out rude, loud, uncivilised and general audience members who can not comply to the rules of theatre etiquette, (yes there is an etiquette which should be held to: the general rule being shut up and watch), but these articles or rather the comments are digging much deeper that the face value of theatre etiquette and audiences.
Since I began writing this article the Daily Mail website has actually removed all the comments that were actually on their article here, which was driving my thoughts upon this blog. However lucky for me Sans Taste have the comment in full from one of the Daily Mail readers where ‘Sue’ states:
“This is what happens when tickets are given away to under 25s. They have no social skills at all. They are vulgar and have no culture at all. It is a complete waste of money. It should have been given to families with an increase in culture but cannot afford the tickets. Or it could have been given to pensioners who likewise are unable to afford tickets. The under 25s are an abomination and a disgrace to our society.”
I’d like to thank Sue for her charming words on the current state of a whole generation of under 25’s and the state in which we are bringing down the theatre industry with ‘no social skills at all’. Of course this is a strong reaction from some middle-aged woman who has unfortunately been scarred for life by the terrible disgrace that the younger generation brings to the theatre.
My reaction is simple: It is people like this that should be barred from theatre’s altogether. The act of going to the theatre is a social event, and whilst I agree that there is an ‘etiquette’ as I spoke about before to going to the theatre, that doesn’t mean that we should stop a whole age range of people from attending. I feel outraged that someone could be so narrow minded in regards to audiences and the arts.
As a 21 year old, who adores the theatre, spends his life involved in theatre, and attempts to pick up apart details of theatrical events and understandings of theatre – I implore the older generations to stop this narrow minded approach to audience and ages. Theatre changes, as does the audience, but there is nothing wrong with getting younger generations into the theatre, in fact, it boosts culture, education and even ticket sales by allowing more younger people to enjoy the spectacle of theatre.
Theatre has for years been an elitist event, and it is about time that ticket prices dropped, allowing more families, younger generations, and even the older generations to enjoy theatre. Schemes like A Night Less Ordinary have allowed for under 25s to finally afford to go to the theatres, and see and witness the buzz of culture that is thriving not only in London but all over the country.
Of course there is going to be criticism from those that are left out of the scheme, but that doesn’t take away from the opportunties that this is bringing to those that would have never experienced theatre because of the inflation of ticket prices (the West End in my opinion is shocking for selling tickets at £50+ – limiting its market audiences to those that can afford these over priced tickets. Theatre is meant to be accessible to everyone!)
So just because I am classed as under 25, that doesn’t make me ‘vulgar’ with ‘no culture’ – in fact I’m embracing all culture of the theatre as much as possible and loving it. If people are so concerned with the introduction of younger generations into the theatre then my advice is simple: Stop going to the theatre altogether and intead write hate letters into national newspapers complaining of the lack of standards in theatre audiences, and how all under 25 year olds are an abomination and a disgrace to our society because those who are so blatantly offensive and discrimitive towards younger audience members are obviously not a disgrace to our society, but just born into a generation that doesn’t understand the changes within our society, and most certainly not within the theatre.
With original stimulus from Sans Taste