There’s nothing quite like the joy of the theatre. And theatre does indeed seem to be back. I recently saw ‘Be More Chill’ with £10 tickets, and they’re not the only production offering incredible deals. The ‘Hamilton’ lottery is back, as is ‘TodayTix’ with a plethora of brilliant offers.
It seems that opening theatres at full capacity has created a surplus of opportunities, and opportunities increase accessibility. I recently expressed my concerns as to how reduced capacity could drive up the price of tickets, and I’m pleased to see that opening up theatres fully has reversed this effect.
However, the question still remains as to why theatres are able to offer such discounts. Does this suggest that their popularity has decreased? Are fewer tickets being sold?
It is clear that a significant percentage of the population are still nervous about the Covid-19 pandemic. While it’s great that theatres are free to fill their auditoriums to the brim, it does mean there is a careful balancing act to be played.
They must prove themselves to be safe and Covid-secure while still not irritating clients with endless rules and regulations. But when half the audience would prefer to enforce mask-wearing and the other half despise it, how can a venue please everyone? Even with almost 75% of the adult population vaccinated, the virus is finding a way to survive. We are not out of the danger zone yet.
So far, it appears that venues are taking a soft approach to Covid rules. They are requesting masks instead of demanding them, they are imploring for track and trace sign-ups rather than refusing entry. And they are encouraging one way systems rather than corralling visitors in any one direction.
Audiences seem to be slowly returning. So perhaps this approach is working.
Or perhaps this approach is more placatory than useful. Surely this is not helping to curb the spread of Covid that greatly? Is it even satisfying the wishes of either those who wish to forget Covid or those who wish to protect themselves from it?
So while I revel in the cheap tickets that have popped up recently, I must admit that I fear what they might mean for the industry. Let us hope that theatres do not need to offer cheap tickets but are instead merely choosing to.
There is still nothing quite like the joy of seeing the curtain rise for the first time in months, of hearing the audience hush with baited breath, of feeling the suspension of my heart as the orchestra starts to play. I would not wish to denigrate anything that the actors, the stage crew, the technical team, nor even the theatre owners have achieved since theatres reopened.
But perhaps we might need to find some more consistency in theatres’ approach to Covid, perhaps create some performances aiming for stricter social distancing rules and some for looser ones, so that audience members can choose their safety and their happiness at the same time. They have the right to know what they’re getting themselves in for.
Yes, theatre is up and at it again. And once we’re a bit more used to this supposedly post-pandemic world, hopefully they can become stable once more too.