Friday, 14 September 2012

Theatre for Teens

A more-than-averagely rambling post on a lack of teens in theatre audiences.

Nottingham Playhouse's Skymirror

Last week we won tickets and went to see the Importance of Being Earnest at Nottingham Playhouse. Now, when I say 'we', I mean me, my husband and our 15 yr old daughter. We generally, though not always, ALL go to the theatre together. Spending a week in Edinburgh for its summer festivals between us we went to 5 plays, a steam-punk cabaret, a story-telling, BBC radio recordings, a stunt-cyclist demonstration and a harp recital, but not all of us to each event. It can be difficult to find something that's to all our tastes so we often disagree about how enjoyable an evening it was.
But something that hadn't struck me till my daughter mentioned it, was the lack of other teenagers in theatre audiences. At one of the Edinburgh fringe events, she commented that she was the youngest there but last week in Nottingham she looked like the only person under 25. Why?
Go along to a production of something covered in the National Syllabus - Romeo and Juliet or maybe the up-coming Of Mice and Men - and the audience will be packed with school trips; go along to the Christmas pantomime and even the tiniest of children are there. But anything else and the audience is made up of adults only. Do parents see a theatre trip as a night-out for them, away from the kids? Or do they just assume that teens wouldn't be interested?
I went out to theatres a lot as a teen - at first on trips organised by school but then with my friends, often desperately wanting the play to wind up in time for us to catch the last bus home - but easily as much as I went to the cinema. It isn't that theatre tickets are particularly more expensive than those for the cinema - though maybe an 'Orange Wednesday' type deal would encourage more punters.
Without teens going to theatres now, isn't a risk being run that there will soon be no adults visiting either?


I'm probably going to find no one who agrees, who's always seen theatre audiences crowded out with youngsters but if so PLEASE leave a comment.

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