'Whoever comes are the right people.'

Stefan Escreet, 9 August 2012

This conversation was started by a worry that theatre might be felt to be elitist or exclusive by some people.
How do we get them to come to the theatre?

Attending: Wadvern Davis, Jenn Mattinson, Stefan Escreet, Dave Roberts, Ian Forrest, Anne, Sue McCormick, Ian Hinde, Chris Wadsworth and one or two bumblebees.

The group acknowledged that Theatre could be perceived to be ‘stuffy’,'formal', ‘worthy’, ‘posh’ and ‘not sexy’. Some people felt intimidated by having to ‘behave’ at the theatre.

(Report to be continued...attending another conversation!
If you go to a D&D be aware that you might have to write up one of these reports - while other juicy sessions are starting!
...Following morning...after a really encouraging day off the hamster wheel.)

We arrived at another question:
Where does the cycle or pattern of attendance start?
- Parents taking their children
- Schools taking thier pupils
So important that this is a positive experience. And that they feel the ‘magic’ of theatre

- the live, shared experience that sets it apart from other forms.

...this took us to considering how theatres can help people feel comfortable and want to attend.
- Front of House (Cafe, Bar, Galleries, presentation of Box Office) should create a relaxed, inviting environment (but there's no need to dumb down the product on stage!)

There was an account of the tension between an audience who appreciated ushers being in formal dress (for a Big Night Out) and those that wanted something recognisable, but relaxed. When Theatre by the Lake tried to relax the dress code there were many complaints and a reversal of policy.

- Access and Inclusion. As well as the familiar signed or captioned performances and audio described performances, the group discussed how some venues programmed ‘Relaxed’ or ‘Noisy’ performances that allowed customers with conditions that made them particularly vocal to feel comfortable.

Another question arose:
How do we go out to people and reassure them that the theatre could be for them?
- The rural touring experience was refered to. Here the audience ‘owns’ the space, it is theirs and they are comfortable in it. Theatre is just one of a variety of activities that take place there. Was there a way of capturing that feeling when they come into a theatre building?
- The inclusion of family shows was thought to be important in programming. To encourage the next generation of theatre goers.

We concluded with another question:

How much do we feel it is necessary to include everyone?

While it is important to be passionate and creative about encouraging all people to feel that theatre can be for them, some of them simply won't want to come!
So perhaps ‘Whoever comes are the right people’.


behaving, magic, Dress code for Ushers, Relaxed Performances, family shows, worthy, Theatre by the Lake, Magic