The newly-opened Sam Wanamaker Playhouse is expected to attract an additional 100,000 annual audience members to the Shakespeare’s Globe South Bank site, the venue’s directors have said.
This would bring the Globe’s overall audience numbers across both its new indoor playhouse and original outdoor theatre space to almost 500,000 a year, they added.
The venue, which will stage shows during the winter season, opened last week with a production of The Duchess of Malfi, starring Gemma Arterton.
Globe artistic director Dominic Dromgoole added that he expected the 340-seat candlelit playhouse to bring in increasing numbers of theatregoers who attend venues such as London’s Royal Court Theatre.
He said: “The audience we have had in so far – they are still very much our own Globe audience – I think some of them will stick and some of them won’t. I also think a lot of new people will come in who are a bit more Royal Court-esque. They will start to get to know our work and that might well feed into the new space.”
When asked what sort of audience this was, Dromgoole added: “A certain audience that has been won over to the Globe over the course of 17 years whose initial reaction was that it was populist and that all sorts of people were in there rather than just a certain group. I think that process of winning them over will now accelerate.”
Globe chief executive Neil Constable said the organisation had budgeted for the new playhouse on the basis of filling the auditorium to an average of 73% capacity.
He said: “We are looking at another 100,000 theatregoers joining the 380,000 who saw the season last year.”
Constable said that there would also be a knock-on effect to other parts of the Globe’s business – through the income it derives from its restaurants, exhibitions and tours.
He added: “This is a space that is going to be able to offer a two-theatre tour for the 350,000 people who come to the exhibition and tour every year, who might not see a show but want to learn about Shakespeare.
“This new space will be a net contributor, artistically as well as financially.”