This is my mission in life. It isn’t called Twenty-Something Theatre for nothing. In the last couple months I have come across of few different articles that have addressed this issue but prior to that I haven’t heard many people talk about it. (But then again maybe I just live in a bubble). This idea, which really isn’t an “idea” at all but an absolute “necessity”, is the main reason I started this company 4 years ago.
Four years ago I was just your average mid twenty-something girl. Most of my non-theatre friends didn’t go to theatre much (unless it was one of my shows). My sister and her friends (all in their late teens at the time) didn’t go to “regular” theatre much either. Large scale, touring productions of “The Phantom of the Opera”? Yes, definitely! Your local theatre? No, not so much. My brother and his friends (in their early twenties) ditto. I think this speaks for a LARGE majority of people in their twenties.
So, what happens when the blue-rinse crowd that constitutes the majority of the crowds at some of our larger regional theatres (you know the ones) die off? Who will be in the audience? Rebecca Coleman started discussing this very issue in her blog, The Art of the Biz, after going to see a production of “The Drowsy Chaperone” at the Playhouse, called “Where is our future audience?”. I also went to see that production. Who did I go with? My parents. Enough said. Then I noted in an interview with Craig Hall (Question #7), on The Next Stage by Simon Ogden, that he also mentions this very thing. I thought to myself, holy crap, are people ACTUALLY starting to recognize that this is a very REAL issue that needs to be addressed. Then most recently I read another article called “Eat, Drink and Stage a New Play: 10 things theatre’s must do to save themselves” where #4 is Get Them Young.
If we don’t start thinking about ways to get the twenty-something crowd into the theatre NOW then down the road we may be very sorry indeed. It is all well and good to think of all the wacky, crazy, creative, out-there shows that would stimulate and satisfy us as artists BUT if we aren’t connecting with our audiences at a very real & emotional level, that makes them feel like they NEED to come back again, then there really isn’t much point. Our audiences are our bread and butter. If we aren’t creating theatre for them then who the heck are we doing it for?