How do we get young people watching and interested in theatre?

Lucy Troy, 5 October 2012

It currently seems like there is not a lot of diversity in the world of youth theatre. The main demographic seems to be white, middle class and female. We first questioned why this was, to see if we could locate the problems, and then how they could potentially be resolved.

The first problem we discussed was how young people are patronised in primary and secondary school as regards to theatre; very unchallenging texts are selected as school plays, and very little experimental techniques, if any, are used to make them inspiring to watch or perform in. Theatre is also used to teach other subjects, rather than being respected as a subject in it's own right, somewhat devaluing theatre`. One participant in the discussion recounted his experience of watching a dramatic piece about the dangers of dangerous driving, which he referred to as “a car crash in itself”. We then discussed how exposing students to more theatre; good and bad, could help them become more passionate about it. Companies such as Knee High and Frantic Assembly seem to be very successful in connecting with a younger audience, due to the workshops they run and the teaching resource packs they provide for some of their shows, as well as the fascinating performances in themselves. Prehaps more theatres and companies could provide these resources to accompany their shows to give more engaging learning tools to their audiences.

Other problems we addressed included how many traditional theatres don't feel particularly welcoming to young audiences. They seem more a place for older people than the young. Unconventional theatre spaces may seem more accessible to younger people, both in performing and viewing, such as shows in bars and pubs, places with a less formal atmosphere. We felt the Young Vic theatre in London created this atmosphere appropriately, with a dimly lit bar and restaurant with music leading on to a theatre in the back.

Price of tickets was also a point of discussion. Many theatres do discounted tickets for under 25s, but the advertising for these is very limited, as obviously theatres don't want to spend money advertising free or discounted tickets. But obviously, if young people aren't aware these tickets are there, they won't buy them. Prehaps theatres should consider putting some money into advertising these tickets, even if it is just through twitter or facebook, as it is an investment into their future turning the next generation into theatre goers.

However our discussion also proved how many people are passionate about youth theatre and getting young people into theatre with the projects they are doing, or will be doing in the future. Which can only be a positive thing for the future of theatre.


cheap tickets, young people, Schools, schools, youth theatre, Youth Theatre, Young People