The theatre has been a big pastime and part of the long history of the UK whether it was from small performances or big West end productions for a larger audience, We are often told that only certain parts of society can attend the theatre. But is this the case?
Theatre is a place which often in the past was for only the wealthiest and most important people leaving a majority of the lower classes of society not getting the chance to view theatre. Along with this it was expected to go in the finest of clothing and to look the part. (Yes! I am serious women would often go in big dresses with cages underneath. Imagine Sitting next to that !)
As well as this many other customs came along with this such as being quite in the theatre , having an interval and darkness. Before this you were allowed to pretty much do anything in the theatre (keep it PG!)
There was this change because composers and even performers got fed up and wanted their art form full appreciated by others. By doing this though it pushed out the other social classes because they could not afford the fancy clothes and the prices of the tickets as they went up to appeal to the type of audience they wanted in the theatre.
You would not think that this is a problem in society now as we have some many theatres with different price range of tickets, Touring shows with theatres closer to our homes and also concession options available but it is still a problem I think.
When we go to the theatre we go not just to the theatre but we also get drinks, possibly an ice cream (or 2!), a program, transport there and back it soon all adds up! This problem can make it sometimes impossible to do on a lower budget. It all adds up for example my simple trip to a show on a Tuesday night to my closest theatre with everything in it was £27.50 and that was with money off ! imagine doing that for a family of 4 !! It can take months or even years for some families to save for a show for a family.
This I think is heart breaking. Theatre for me as a kid helped me not just find my passion but gave me so many skills for my later life and gave me another world to delve into. Theatre is going down in schools especially the schools in poorer areas meaning that even in an educational setting the year play/musical that a school could put on just cant happen or even cuts in drama and music funding cant give them that information.
I think that we should do more to try and get all classes and all different backgrounds of people, to try and create the chances for people to see some shows weather that is if you are unemployed or have low income that you can get cheaper than the normal tickets. This has actually started with some shows that sell tickets through ATG ticket company. It means we are taking a step forward in making it accessible.
As well as this theatre etiquette has changed in the way of what you can wear. (phew!) Theatres do not mind what you wear. You can wear jog pants and a hoody and people would not bat an eye lid. This makes it more open to lower classes who cannot afford fancy clothes and shoes. You can go and just enjoy which I think is another step in the right direction. I common theme with theatre is that it is a safe place for anyone regardless and that is true. I personally would not take offence if the person next to me was from the poverty line because they have come for the same reason as I have to see an amazing show and to enjoy it.
Overall Social Class in Theatre can be a problem but I am assured that we are moving in a direction of change we are making it more accessible to anyone!
Written by Becky Mary for MTAS