The Art of the Business

A blog dedicated to artists who are serious about their business.

Apparently, Theatre is Dead… April 15, 2009

Filed under: Business of Arts — Rebecca Coleman @ 8:54 am
Tags: , ,

While starring in the play A Touch of the Poet on Broadway in 2005, [actor Gabriel] Byrne proclaimed that theater is dying out.

“I looked out into the audience and the theatre was packed with well-to-do, white-haired people,” Byrne said.

“After the show I turned to one of the other actors and said, ‘Theater is dead. There’s no one under 60 out there, they’re all white and they can all afford £200 for a night.’ Seriously, theater as we’re doing it now, is dead.”

Read the entire story here.

What do you think? Are rumours of her death greatly exaggerated? Or do you agree with Mr. Byrne?

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5 Responses to “Apparently, Theatre is Dead…”

  1. Total rubbish. Maybe the usual overpriced, sit down and listen for two hours shows are on the decline right now–money being in short supply, and escapism in high demand–but head to a Fringe Fest or a musical and you’ll be lucky to get a seat.

  2. jeffrey Says:

    Well, it depends on where one goes to see theater. If you’re going to see a 50-year-old play starring a 60-year-old actor in a theater district where the minimum ticket price is $60, then a sea of middle-aged white people isn’t a shock.

    In NY, I wouldn’t say that the theater scene’s at it’s highest level of popularity, but the fact that young artists constantly make new work in large volume means that there is at least a steady stream of young audience members interested in what’s going on. But old art and old artists attract old audiences, so I think Gabriel Byrne had a poor sample set on which to base his judgment.

  3. Patrick Says:

    Theatre, itself, will never die… That model of presentation, however…

  4. vancouvertheatredirector Says:

    I would be curious who Mr. Byrne feels went to the theatre 40 years ago.
    Likely 85% of the population of the audience were white hairs then too.
    That being said I’ve recently opened a show and I would say every single night the majority of our houses are 35 and under. It’s amazing – rare, but it happens – it’s all about what you’re presenting. If you try to appeal to them, without hitting them over the head with it – they’ll come.

  5. Laura Says:

    The National Theatre in London has had great success with their attempts to attract younger audiences – they offer inexpensive tickets and the houses are packed. But they have huge subsidies which help them afford to do this. I think audiences depend a great deal on the work being presented and on the ticket prices. I’d love to see Gabriel Byrne on stage, but not if it’s going to cost me $200 – I just don’t have that kind of disposable income. Theatre should be a way of life, not a special occasion. But that doesn’t mean I always want to see fringe theatre, or plays with one character in them. It’s time that governments started to understand the value and importance of theatre as an art form and began to subsidise it more fully. I also think theatre should have a greater role in the curriculum, so that audiences are nurtured early on. I suppose this is all a pipe dream given the way our economy is structured, but a girl can hope.


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