This Theatre Charter thing is annoying me – it only seems to serve a small, privileged section of the audience. In response I’ve drawn up an alternative which I’d be much happier to see people sign up to. THE VENUE/COMPANY
- We will welcome you to our spaces with no prejudice. You don’t have to wear a top hat and tails to get in, and if you want to have a laugh and a joke with your mates in the bar then we’re cool with that
- We will do our best to engage and entertain you with our performances and events. Sometimes we may not be completely successful, but we’re going to try bloody hard.
- We know our bars are usually massively overpriced. If we can’t keep these prices down, we’ll at least try to make them a nice environment to hang out in
- Yes, the ice cream is also overpriced. And the sweets. We’re sorry
- Because most of our Box Office and Front of House staff will be people who are keen to work in our industry (and lots will be students or jobbing artists) they’re typically lovely people to chat to. They’re not well-paid, but they’ll probably be up for a chat if you fancy it
- We can’t compete with Michael Bay – but we can do spectacle. And bigger isn’t always better – some smaller shows are AMAZING
- If we’re doing a show that’s not at a traditional space, then we’ll give you as much information as possible about it. Nothing sucks more than going to a show in a muddy, rainy field wearing flip-flops and a t-shirt (festivals excepted)
- Our seats are probably uncomfortable. WE KNOW. If you need to fidget a bit to get comfortable, then go for it (and if you want to bring a cushion from home, then that’s cool too)
- We will respect you and your opinions. If you think our work wasn’t great, then we’ll not claim you “didn’t get it” – instead, we’ll work harder at making what we’re trying to achieve even clearer
- Let us know if you have any problems. We’re not going to get any better at making theatre more welcoming if you don’t feed back to us, and we’re genuinely keen to know what you think
- If you want to laugh or applaud at any points, then go for it. There’s not a wrong time to react – despite what some people will tell you – and it lets us know what you think
- You’re welcome to leave if you want to. This isn’t Guantanamo Bay – you don’t have to wait until we let you leave
- You might be able to help us in being better with new audiences. If you think you know a group who may be interested in coming who haven’t been before, then get in touch and we’ll happily do what we can to make the experience enjoyable for them
- If you’re bringing a family to a show, then we’re really excited by that. We hope they enjoy it, and tell us anything we can do to make it better. Theatres can be really bad at dealing with families sometimes
- If there’s anything we’re failing at as a venue, then TELL US. Best thing to do is put something in writing (even a tweet) and then we can respond and do something about it.
- And try not to be a dick, eh? We’re really keen for you to feel welcome, but if you keep doing stuff like shouting “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” at Sir Ian McKellan during Waiting for Godot or threatening to punch out an old lady because her sweet wrappers are too loud, we’ll probably ask you to leave
And remember – you can absolutely sign up to this charter. Or not. It’s completely your choice.
In case you’re interested, Amber Massie-Blomfield from The Albany and Annabel Turpin from ARC in Stockton have also blogged about why their venues aren’t signing up to the Theatre Charter (the original one, not mine). They’re both good reads.