There was a recent post on MTAS Facebook that got many of us talking, it was about a member who got turned away from ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ at the Duchess Theatre by a rude member of staff due to her age- New MTAS blogger Isobelle Desbow @issidesbrow101 will be looking about theatres policies regarding young people going to the theatre alone.
After doing research there are a few theatres with rules regarding unaccompanied children such the Apollo Victoria (home of top musical Wicked), This theatre in particular will not allow anyone under the age of 15 in without a parent or guardian over the age of 18, however it can be seen that at times these rules are rarely enforced.
So why was a 14 year old turned away? – The answer may lie in day seating.
Buried many sub clauses into day seating rules is this sentence:
‘Any unaccompanied minor under the age of 16 can be turned away. If a ticket has not been purchased in advance, under the discretion of senior usher.’
This means that anyone under the age of 16 who is day seating could be turned away by a theatre usher. It could be for a number of reasons, if the customer was on their own, if there was a large group of teenagers that may cause a disturbance, or if the show they are wishing to see is not appropriate for their age. It is unfortunate and some may say unfair to restrict those who love the theatre as much as anyone, we as a community tend to not want to read hundreds and terms of conditions, making us none the wiser of the rules. It’s only when disgraces like this happen we realise how restrictive theatre can be for the under 16’s.
Although this may make us angry, we do however have to respect what is in place and workers need to enforce this rule due to the liability insurance taken out by theatres. I’ve been reading the comments on various posts in regards to this subject and it is fundamentally right for the theatre to turn away an underage day seater. However again rarely this is enforced as no one truly looks there age anymore, and for many of us under 18s certainly don’t carry around any ID to confirm our age. If you get turned away it seems to be purely down to the usher discussion which in some cases is unfortunate but they are within their full right to do so. However, they should do it with respect than making someone feel embarrassed – we all make mistakes after all.
Therefore for all under 18 MTAS members, I will always suggest booking tickets in advance and checking with the theatre regarding their rules for unaccompanied children and young adults. Day seating is not perfect by any means, however they could state the minimum age for day seating (again at the discretion of the senior usher) more clear.
Theatre should be for everyone regardless of your age, so have you had issues with Day Seating? Have you been turned away? Do you feel there should be a age limits for shows? Comment below, or tweet us at @MTAS_official.