Mark Courtice, 27 January 2013


Janet Morris

Michelle Roche

Susie Riddell

Tom Fox

Bill Bankes-Jones

Frances Rifkin

Leyla Asadi

Josh ????? (Sorry Josh I did not get your other name)

Meeting called by MC who said this was the question he tended to ask people who

came to see him at his theatre.

We started by definitions:-

Your theatre

Local geographically,

where you like to go

Community (or communities) surrounding the theatre ought to be able to call it their


Who are we asking the question of?


Theatre companies

Local artists (do local artists have some priority - MC thinks so)


Could be powerful force for good/advocates and support

But they feel lack of power/ ownership, too often feel like they are being told what's

good for them

Theatre has no space for those who don't fit into the system

So, theatres could open up to them by:-

Playgoers talk about the show afterwards led by them, run by themselves, not a gift

from the management.

Evening class for theatre goers leads to knowledgeable, committed theatregoers

Theatre could have a playgoers club; apparently Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds has

one - Chris Grady?

In Edinburgh the audience members talk to each other – the “What have you seen

that's good?” conversation. Can we replicate in every theatre?

We think this sort of openness has to be part of the deal from the start. Too often “Post

Shows” are add-ons.

If you are on stage you have the power c.f. post show discussions

Proteus Theatre Co have developed a group who now talk to AD at regular meetings,

follow company and are a “focus group”

Audiences can offer a partnership but this may involve hard questions:-

Why can't we talk during the show?

How do artists/producers cope with being told it’s awful

We think this is part of making the art better and people generally look for the good


Should the theatre give the audience what they want, or challenge?

Should/could the audience choose/advise on the shows,

Perhaps we could ask the audience to be an early warning system by telling us of

good stuff seen elsewhere or which their friends are talking about. Portmanteau tix for

seeing stuff across different types could encourage adventurous theatre going.

Should we/ can be a smorgasbord venue or a place like Jackson's Lane dedicated to

circus theatre for example, if we are the only show in town.

Asking for your money back or walking out is hard work, but perhaps it should be.

X-over audiences worked well at a music venue where tix were free and show was

paid for by the bar (what happens if you need both the tix income and the bar sales?)

Someone took her partner to 4 terrible shows in a row until he said he didn't want to go

any more. The next one was fab….. One out of five is a failure for theatre.


Producers want a reply to e-mails and phone calls - especially when they already have

a booking and need tech/marketing details

Need info about what comes with the deal

Local Artists

Need to be able to have relationship, and perhaps to be able to reset this if it goes

wrong. If it's your local theatre it shouldn't be closed to you.

Should one have a project to talk about as opposed to just “support”? Theatre as a

partner - not adjudicator.

Tobacco Factory model of support for company working outside the space with

Box Office

Mailing list


Need to spread the bounty - grant if you have it and resources like space and time.

Scratch nights

New Orleans Model of 6 by 6 six short plays in high speed production and


Another NO model was live soap opera.

Thanks to all who contributed, who were very outward looking, really cared about

audiences and believed that theatre has a vital role in people's lives.


scratch, Audience, local artists, Tobacco Factory, live soap opera, communities,

tobacco factory, audience, Producers, Bury St Edmunds, producers