Once again, the Jolly Lion steps away from play reviews to tell you five things you already know, but can never be told too many times. As ever, if I’m preaching to the converted, another review will be along soon enough – but in the meantime, perhaps there are some thoughts here worth sharing with your friends. The usual buttons are at the bottom of the page, or you can copy this link into Facebook or Twitter and share it around, as we really should be promoting our local Youth Theatre, but why?
1. Because we want them to play to full houses.
The first and easiest reason to book tickets to see your local Youth Theatre is because we love the thought of people playing to full houses. What better way to start your dabblings on the amateur stage than by performing to a packed auditorium. How many of us get a full house for our first performance?
Is there a better buzz than a packed room laughing at a comedy or oohing at a thriller or tapping the collective feet to popular showtunes? A responsive audience is what any performer craves, with a curtain call to remember there is a feeling that all the hard work has finally paid off.
So, bums on seats is rule one. They will feel it was worthwhile if they have an appreciative crowd.
2. Because we all want to play to full houses.
The second reason is educational. As much as most of my readers like to perform or work backstage, it is only by going to see plays that we learn our craft and educate others. If the young people in theatre see us going to support them, you may yet find they come along and support us, both because we turn out for them and because they want to get more involved.
This has two wonderful knock on effects. Firstly, they will experience the range of productions our various companies have to offer. And secondly it may change our demographic and buck the trend, filling the empty seats among the sea of silver with the missing audience members we so often claim to be seeking.
So, bums on seats is also rule two. Having been bitten by the bug, they will want to see more theatre.
3. Because it’s not just for mums and dads and families.
Here is a bizarre point. We love mums and dads and families who buy tickets to see us on stage. Amdram is a world full of audiences made up of our politest families and friends, all having to endure our offerings and say nice things afterwards. But the people at Youth Theatre are special.
These are the lifts to and from rehearsals. These are the folk who will set foot in your theatre wanting to enjoy their evening. These are the people who will be delighted to see that there are other adults around being entertained by the show. If they see and hear others making encouraging comments about youth productions, particularly people involved in the theatre, they will want to encourage the actors and backstage crew to stay involved.
Just as importantly, we will not just be there for one child, we will be there for the whole cast. We will want them to succeed from the big part who has learned pages of dialogue and countless movements right across the stage to spear carrier number three. Whilst we love the stand out performances, we respect the spear carrier. Without someone prepared to carry a spear for two rehearsals a week up to the final performance, the central character is on a stage with nobody to carry the spears – how stupid do you look when you don’t have your spear carrier?
Which leads nicely into:
4. Because these performers are the future of our groups.
The most obvious reason. If you want a future for your company, you want to look after the young. At the moment we’re afraid of the dying audiences, but we mustn’t take our eye off the shrinking talent pools. If we can teach our young people to love theatre now, it will be a hobby they will either look to maintain or return to later in life.
Because we know the friendships we form in amdram are important, the fun of the rehearsal process, the look of a cast who work well together and you can see having fun. Is there anything better as an audience member than going to see a show where the cast can be seen to be having a good time?
So build that respect now and not just for the spear carrier. Make yours a familiar face, a smiling face and a welcoming face around the theatre and people will want to come back, because they will get to know us all as a friendly and welcoming group of people.
Who knows, when they reach their twenties they might stick around. And then we can stage all those plays we’d love to do now, but we don’t have the talent for.
5. Because we love theatre.
Really? You’ve still not booked your tickets? Oh come on. Forget encouraging other, trying to build your group or cast plays in a few years time.
Go because you love theatre.
Does it matter that they’re teenagers? They’ve worked for weeks to put this play together. It’ll probably be as good as any adult show you’ll see. It’s a chance to see a script performed that adults might not do and you get to be caught up in the magic of theatre like you do at any other production.
You know, big curtain, stage of actors, lights and sounds, props and costumes, a world created by a devoted production team and an enthusiastic cast. What better reason can there be to go?
Seriously. Book your seat. And take a friend. Blimey, take two friends and make a night of it…
No doubt there are more blindingly obvious reasons than I’ve mentioned here. If you’d care to share them, please add your comments below. If you’ve a youth production coming up and you think this page may help motivate some wavering friends or members, do please share it around.
For a reminder of the Jolly Lion’s previous thoughts on young people in theatre, don’t miss: As You Like It – The Night After The Night Off