When you picture a trip to the theatre, what do you see? London’s West End extravaganzas? Smartly dressed folk with those tiny binoculars? Expensive tickets?
Most towns and cities have some sort of theatre space, putting on productions large and small, made up of professional actors and am-dram societies alike, and in a world fast becoming dominated by Netflix and cat videos on Youtube, the fight is on to encourage people to venture out to a show, and show potential audiences that traditional theatre stereotypes no longer apply.
Theatre can make you think[video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hTLzpzjSW0]
You might see a production of your favourite book or film, or a show challenging perceptions of gender, or even a show you know nothing about, but they all have one thing in common: The ability to make you think and talk about what you’ve seen, or open your eyes to issues you’d never thought of. Louisa Claughton, 23, English and Theatre graduate and West Yorkshire Playhouse employee, said: “Theatre is something that can be so much more about the people and a specific place than films can be…It’s super important for a group of people to get together and see that message and get the discussion going, as a way of talking about things that maybe don’t get talked about enough.”
Funding for the arts
Adding “In a time when government funding for the arts is being cut, I think theatre is a great way of getting people together and getting them talking about important things.” Leeds West Yorkshire Playhouse’s have recently been awarded an Arts Council England grant of £6.6 million that will no doubt have started 2016 off with a bang for them – and the city.
European Capital of Culture 2023
The grant is going to be used towards refurbishing the building, improving access, upgrading equipment and creating a new studio theatre space, and adds to the £4.9m already committed by Leeds City Council for the project. With Leeds bidding to be named European Capital of Culture 2023, the funding will be a welcome boost in the efforts to showcase the city in order for it to join Glasgow and Liverpool as UK cities given the prestigious title.
The Playhouse aims to “create world-class, relevant and compelling theatre and to transform people’s lives by the power and vitality of our work”, and the awarding of the grant seems to reinforce just how important theatre can be to their local community.
Have you been to the theatre lately? Did it make you think? Or would you never consider going to see a show? Let us know in the comments below!