Robert Icke volunteers for a pay cut

Theatre will be dead within 50 years unless outrageous ticket prices are curbed, an award-winning director has said.

Robert Icke, who is currently directing Andrew Scott as Hamlet in the play’s transfer to the Harold Pinter Theatre, said younger audiences simply could not afford the amount now charged for seats.

Scott, who agreed to Hamlet’s West End transfer only on the condition that it would offer cheap seats for the under 30s, called modern price schemes “disgusting”.

If there’s less money coming in from the punters then someone, somewhere, on the producer side has to be getting less. We can and should assume that Mr. Icke is volunteering, yes?

24 comments on “Robert Icke volunteers for a pay cut

  1. I am quite sure that Mr Icke desires an increase in Arts Council funding to cover the loss so that he can continue to live in the style to which he has become accustomed.

  2. The theatre is not that much in demand. Dropping prices will lead to likely a small increase in numbers but the overall receipts will be down and thus theatre will move yet nearer to its demise.

    Like the Railways it is obsolete technology that is already vastly down from its heyday.

    Said heyday occurring because theatre was all there was at the time.

  3. I dunno. Is the theatre full? If so, they’re not charging too much. Or is the worry that when the oldies filling up the theatre die and seat go empty, youngsters (who are now a bit older) won’t fill them? Seems a bit of a stretch.

    Or perhaps he’s just rent-seeking, as they all do? Yes, I’ll go with that.

  4. I’m sure the price of Premiership football matches has similarly increased. But then there’s always Sunday football… and amateur dramatics.

  5. younger audiences simply could not afford the amount now charged for seats

    What younger people consider essential spending is beyond my bovine comprehension but it’s not that difficult to understand why a ticket to a trendy production of Hamlet might not be thought a must-have.

  6. Tim Newman,

    “I dunno. Is the theatre full? If so, they’re not charging too much.”

    I went to the opera recently. £15 tickets for the kids and mine wasn’t much more expensive, and we bought them less than a fortnight before the performance. 20 years ago I had to buy those about 2 or 3 months in advance.

    The problem with theatre, opera, ballet and live classical music is that there’s very little demand for it, and over the past 20 or 30 years, all the snobbery about art forms like rock music and cinema has gone. No-one thinks they should be seen going to see La Boheme any more. So, unless you like opera, you don’t go. Opera is gradually shifting more and more to country house opera, and that won’t be a bad thing.

    And yes, the audience for theatre is old. The average age of a theatregoer is 52.

  7. The last two times we’ve been to the theatre it’s been hard to make out the words.

    One was a Stoppard comedy: the problem was associated with the age gulf among the actors We could hear perfectly well what the middle-aged ones said but the the youngsters were usually inaudible.

    The other was a musical; because the amplified music was too loud we couldn’t hear the lyrics. We could make out the dialogue when the music wasn’t playing: middle-aged actors, you see.

    On our telly I can adjust the sound and put up subtitles.

    We love the theatre but probably will never go back.

  8. The West End is coining it. It’s the subsidised theatre which is haviing difficulties. I wonder why that is.

  9. Actually, the ticket price is peanuts; it’s the parking, the train fares if you live out of London.

  10. I go to the opera regularly and I’ve not noticed any drop off of attendance, (or prices), but I must admit that the audience is not exactly youthful.

    The management at ROH regularly bemoan the lack of te yoof and bleat on about ‘attracting a wider audience’ etc. etc., but opera requires an investment in time to fully appreciate its wonders as well as money to pay the prices they charge and these things more usually come with age and maturity.

    As us oldies wither away, I have no doubt that some of the generation behind us will mature in their tastes, (and disposable income), and take our place in the stalls.

    Meanwhile the opera houses will do more cinema broadcasts and web streaming, (and even free open air screenings), in the hope of infecting the young with the bug while presenting some ghastly and incoherent productions in a stupid attempt to make them more ‘relevant’. (As if any opera that’s survived this long is not relevant to the human condition.)

  11. I have to echo many of the cotributors here. I have largely stopped going to the opera (ROH) as i have less disposable income and will see no change out of 100squids for train+ticket ( usually more). I stopped going to the ENO, because it’s crap.

    I also sympathise with dearieme about inaudible actors, I have a (ahem) liking for Gemma Arterton, although her technique needs improving, I can actually hear her, but usually can’t make out the rest of the young ladies in the cast. But as BiF says, the West End is doing very well, just try buying a Saturday matinee ticket, even my local regional theatre seems to tick over nicely.

    Something I’ve noticed, though, is that classical concert tickets have gone up a lot in the last few years and it is difficult to attend something for less than 35GBP. I also have noticed that audiences seem to be dropping off. I went to one last week that would have been nearly sold out 10 years ago, but was less than 2/3rds populated now. Tastes change, I guess…

  12. Mr. Icke is accusing ‘theatre’ of bad business management. He may be right, but it’s not his call.

  13. I went to the opera recently. £15 tickets for the kids and mine wasn’t much more expensive, and we bought them less than a fortnight before the performance. 20 years ago I had to buy those about 2 or 3 months in advance.

    I went to the opera in Paris a couple of years back on work-subsidised tickets with a face-value of 150 Euros. Place was fucking packed to the rafters.

  14. “I went to the opera in Paris a couple of years back on work-subsidised tickets with a face-value of 150 Euros. Place was fucking packed to the rafters.”

    Probably tourists waiting to see Phantom drop the chandelier.

  15. BIW,

    we bought them less than a fortnight before the performance. 20 years ago I had to buy those about 2 or 3 months in advance.

    The theatres are better at managing demand these days.

    TimN, others,

    Or is the worry that when the oldies filling up the theatre die and seat go empty, youngsters (who are now a bit older) won’t fill them?

    That’s the not-so-subtle implication. By that logic the entire cruise industry must be quaking in their boots.

    I find opera and ballet very useful for entertaining foreign clients, now that we’re no longer allowed to take them to strip clubs.

  16. I also have noticed that audiences seem to be dropping off.

    That’s why classical pieces have the occasional clash of cymbals.

  17. I think I’ve been to the theatre twice since I left school 35 years ago, Prisoner Cell Block H The Musical, and Guards Guards, both in the same late-Victorian theatre perfectly built to direct the acoustics so you can hear what’s happening.

  18. @BnLiA

    I have largely stopped going to the opera (ROH) as i have less disposable income and will see no change out of 100squids for train+ticket ( usually more).

    Over £200 (just for the ticket) for ‘big name’ performers and a decent seat.

    classical concert tickets have gone up a lot in the last few years and it is difficult to attend something for less than 35GBP.

    I’m going to a Bruckner Prom – it’s the Concertgebouw, so top whack pricing – £56 for a stalls ticket, so we’ll be promming!

  19. ‘By that logic the entire cruise industry must be quaking in their boots.’

    Indeed. And people trying to repair their childhood by buying a 1970 Hemi Cuda for $350,000 – today’s cars are FAR better. Pre-war classics might hold their values, but Muscle Cars are doomed when the Baby Boomers are gone.

  20. Yank here.
    Watched a video of last night at the prom.
    Now you say promming.

    Can you tell me what prom/promming means?

    TIA

  21. I’m sure if you search for BBC Proms, you’ll get plenty of information. From memory, Prom. stands for Promenade Concerts which have been subsidised and broadcast by the BBC out of BBC Licence Fee payers subscriptions for years.

    They are held in the Albert Hall on the edge of Kensington Park during the sumer months and the “Last Night of the Proms” at the end of summer is a bit of a session where good-natured patriotism and plenty of Elgar combine.

    Is that about right, my fellow countrymen?

  22. A promenade is a leisurely walk or stroll usually along the sea front or through a park.

    Perhaps the Proms got their name from a time when bands would be playing and you could stop and listen to them?

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