The Theatre of 2010 – My Hopes

December 31, 2009

Whilst people are making their New Year Resolutions, and institutes are celebrating what 2009 held for theatre listing the best of the best, and even the worse of the worse… I’m looking beyond all of this. We’ve already seen several Hot Tips appearing for theatre in 2010, and with new season announces each week the anticipation for the first big sellers is getting exciting. For me, I’m hoping 2010 will see the start of change in theatre.

So without further hesitation, here are A Younger Theatres’ Hopes for Theatre in 2010…

#1 Continued West End Ticket Sales – Recession was a hot topic on everyone’s lips during 2009. We saw numerous companies go into Administration and disappear off our high streets. Purses and wallets were firmly kept shut, yet somehow the West End saw an increase in ticket sales and remarkably out riding the recession. They say that theatre is a form of escapism and perhaps audiences were inclined to spend their money on musicals and plays to forget their woes. Whatever the reason, let’s hope that 2010 continues with the sales and theatre shows us what it is really made of during finical crisis.

#2 Lighting In The Lime Light – The forgotten talent in theatre. I hope that in 2010 lighting gets the recognition that it readily deserves, that critics take up their pen and paper and focus on how these wonderful shows they are writing about are seen through the designs painstakingly made by lighting designers. It’s as if this area of theatre gets completely lost in the lime light of the actors who are being lit. Lighting is atmospheric, stunning and highly creative – so lets see people talking about it more, instead of leaving it in the dark. (Let’s also hope the lighting puns/jokes stop too… lime light?! What was I thinking?)

#3 Younger People Breaking Through – The very nature of this blog is for myself to have a platform to express my thoughts and feelings on something that I completely adore. I admit wholeheartedly I am young, at 21 years old, and writing about theatre in the best fashion I can. 2009 has taught me that there is a gap within theatre that is slowly being filled with the younger generations, be it through youth theatres gaining greater success, or the new breed of playwrights getting younger. What I hope for though is that we start to see the written form of the younger generations as critics such as myself having a greater platform in discussing both theatre and the arts.  We might not have the many years of theatre under our belts like Billington, but we do come with passion and a whole new point of view. 2010, let it be the Year of the Younger Generations!

#4 Internships On Top – The recession might not have dampened ticket sales in the West End but jobs in the arts are drying up, where a single advertisement can get several hundred people applying. 2009 saw the boom in the Internship, something I discuss here. My hopes for 2010 is for Internships to continue with the increasing number of applicants but also to begin to evolve with this demand. Internships allow for much learning, but lets not squash that learning by it becoming the norm. Let 2010 keep Internships on top form.

#5 Ecofriendly Theatre – Our climate is changing, but what are theatres doing about it? The Arcola Theatre is one of the leading theatres in taking the green initiative and adapting their theatre to tackle climate change. I hope that 2010 sees other theatres taking up the greener side of theatre – LED Lights anyone? What more, I’d like to see bigger theatres doing their bit and proposing how they will tackle a more enviromentally friendly theatre for 2010.

#6 Social Media For Better – Phenomenons such as Facebook and Twitter have changed the way theatres are now engaging with their audiences. We saw the first devised opera through the means of Twitter – a great collaboration between audience and the Royal Opera House. Twitter has enabled theatres to tell us more, to give insights into what lies behind the walls, deep in the offices and backstage areas. It has allowed voices to emerge from the depths of theatres. Let’s hope 2010 brings more engagement with audiences through the joys of Social Media, and better improvement on how it is effectively used in marketing campaigns.

#7 The London Fringe Festival – The talk of the town after an announcement was made that there is to be the London Fringe Festival in August 2010. What can I say to this? My hope is simply this: The organisers realise that their attempts at putting on a Fringe Festival in London during August when the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is taking place is barbaric. If they want to make this a success, they have to base their model on something that is not already in place. My hope for 2010 is that this festival either completely flops or completely blows all our minds. Whatever the outcome – let it be a lesson learnt. (Let’s also hope for a better website, better organisation, and better ideas for this 2010 Fringe Festival…)

So here are a few of my hopes for the Theatre of 2010… what are your hopes?


Save our theatre! (From the older generations)

August 14, 2009

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.

Articles mentioned can be found at the following places:
The Times
The Daily Mail
The Telegraph

With original stimulus from Sans Taste