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.


  1. I think partly the problem is cost. We all love the theatre, there are so many things I would love to see. That we would all love to see. Our last trip was £200 for the 3 of us and we can't do that on a regular basis. I think that is your answer. We try to go to other promotions and take advantage of offers but it's not something that is doable frequently - especially with travel costs and food and drink etc. My daughter fares much better as we have a relative who loves taking her to shows so she has seen far more than we have. Great post to link up at #tweensteensbeyond

    1. I can see that in certain places cost might prove an issue (I'm guessing yours are London prices) but seat prices round here can be as low as £10-15. Perhaps as well, we're lucky in being close to three theatres - Derby Theatre, Nottingham Playhouse and Nottingham Theatre Royal - and able to snatch a quick dinner at home before heading out. Maybe somethings are better living out in the Provinces :)

  2. We are a big theatre going family. Our eldest is not keen but our youngest is big into drama and loves going both with school and us. It is however as Nicky said hugely expensive particularly when you add in all the extras on top. Having said that I would rather that than her spend more time in front of a screen so we do place it high on our priority list. We are busy planning a trip to the Edinburgh fringe with our youngest this summer and she is hugely excited at the prospect. Great post and very relevant. #TweensTeensBeyond

    1. I'm becoming increasingly convinced that the only reason we find theatre so accessible is because we live in the Midlands - three top class theatres to choose from, quality shows (often here before their West End transfer) and much lower ticket prices. Edfringe though is fantastic - and, if you do it properly, cheap!

  3. This is true in my family. I took them to the theatre a lot when they were younger but now they never go at all apart from with school. I'm actually off to see MacBeth in a few weeks and that's just with my husband! Thanks so much for sharing with us at #TweensTeensBeyond

  4. the theatre is not something we do, but we used to drag unwilling kids to the pant every year which they always ended up enjoying but forgot that they did until the next performance


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