Top theatre director targets young with $16 seats

Fri Dec 7, 2012 12:02pm EST
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - One of Britain's top directors Michael Grandage is targeting the next generation of theatre-goers by offering one quarter of all tickets to his upcoming, star-studded season for 10 pounds ($16) each, a fraction of what they would normally cost.

The award-winning 50-year-old has just set up the Michael Grandage Company after a successful 10-year tenure at the Donmar Warehouse in London, and has announced a five-play season that opens on Monday with wartime drama "Privates on Parade".

Other theatres have introduced similar schemes to fill seats and draw in new audiences, but Grandage's is on a large scale and aims to ensure that the ageing population of regular theatre-goers is replaced over time.

"The center of what we're addressing is changing the demographic of a normal West End audience," Grandage said.

"We need to focus on core audiences because they are the people at the moment keeping the West End open," he told Reuters. "They will eventually die, and what we are doing is to make sure there is a group of people who replace that audience.

"If we don't find them early and get them excited about coming to the theatre early, it's not something you tend to stumble across in middle age," he added.

Over the 15-month season, the company is reserving 100,000 seats at 10 pounds each out of a total of around 400,000. The top price of 57.50 pounds will partly "subsidies" the cheaper tickets, he said.

Grandage is one of several leading figures in British theatre to warn against complacency amid strong ticket sales in London's West End and its main government-supported venues.   Continued...