Have you noticed that it’s usually the same shows being produced year after year and truly new shows are getting so rare? That same issue can be seen in film as well, it’s all revivals, sequels or spin offs from the existing thing that everyone loves. That happens because audiences have become so risk-averse that they make financially impossible for new work to thrive. I think it’s such a shame that the nature of purchasing tickets has had to escalate to a point now where it has to be about money but it’s an expensive business, putting on a show, so you can understand how these limitations can have an effect.
The thing that it comes down to is uncertainty. When theatre is having to compete with streaming and cinema for your time, attention and money, it can be a complex purchase decision for people to make. Naturally, live arts is a bit more expensive than other forms of entertainment and so naturally audiences are more concerned about getting value for money because it’s a big commitment. I’ve found that while people are appreciative of the value of theatre, they also find themselves wanting to see productions that are familiar to them, rather than something completely new, because you’re more likely to know that it will be a good evening.
New theatre can be so risky because they can’t show you what you’re buying until they’ve actually started performing it, whereas the UK Tours are usually shows that have already existed so they have photographs and videos you can listen to the soundtracks, have an idea of the songs you’re going to hear, the kind of dance and set and design that you’re going to see and providing this much information reduces the risk for the audience. In the first place, you’re more likely to pay attention to a show when you recognise the title.
Too often audiences in Scotland are closed off to trying new productions. They stick to the big shows on their UK tours and often will ignore the new productions being created right here in Scotland. We are super lucky to have so many wonderful producing theatres across the country and to me it’s a shame that they have to push to get audiences in. That’s not to say that commercial theatre isn’t struggling in our current climate either but it’s so surprising to me how much producing theatre is disregarded, especially from people who consider themselves to be theatre buffs.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t go to the big touring shows, they’re loads of fun and you probably will have a really enjoyable time, but I challenge you to try something new. Support the local industry, value the hours of work that hundreds of people put in to create something new. Those people are working overtime on fairly low salaries in order to make it happen for the local community, and it all comes from their passion to create great theatre. You may well find a brand new fave, and even if it isn’t the best show you’ve ever seen, I guarantee you’ll get something out of it. So go on, broaden your theatrical experiences – I dare you!
Written by Katie Daniel.