My parents were gypsies.
Okay, that’s not technically true, but it’s something I joke about all the time. You see, I’m the youngest (by far) of five kids. And by the time my older siblings were old enough to have jobs and be in high school and cook thier own Kraft Dinner, I was all of 9. So my itchy-to-travel parents had to take me along. Pretty much any time there was a break in school, Christmas, summer vacation, we were gone. I had seen the entire country twice before I even hit double-didgets.
To this day, I have a very strong wanderlust. Some days I just want to get in my car and drive. Being on the highway gives me a thrill. Going on a ferry makes me happy. I just got back from two weeks in Greece, and I have taken plenty of solo camping trips.
Traveling is expensive, and we didn’t have tons of money. Not to mention taking time off of work means no income coming in. But we always figured it out. It was a priority. So, while every scrap of clothing I wore for my entire first 12 years came in the form of a hand-me-down from my cousins or my next-door neighbour, I got so spend Christmas in California.
This gets me to thinking about the theatre. If I take my son to the theatre, just as a matter-of-fact, as “normal,” will he grow up to crave the theatre in the same way that I crave the highway? Our community often worries about the audience of the future–where will they come from? Is this the answer?
I get that theatre, especially big-ticket shows, are expensive, and buying tickets for a family of four is daunting. Perhaps some of us can implement (or already have) family passes, where they give a discount for a small family group. If we want to build an audience for the future, we have to be part of the solution.
I also get that, to some degree, the stuff that we are producing (particularly in indie theatre) might not be appropriate for younger audiences. But I also think that we might under-estimate what our kids can handle, or what might or might not be appropriate.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Are you involved with a theatre company that is trying to reach out to a younger audience? How are you making that work?