Michael Grandage has warned that the West End will “close” unless producers provide cheaper tickets and better access for young people to London’s major theatres.
The director claimed that if younger people were not encouraged to see Theatreland shows, there would be no audience to replace the older patrons he said were currently keeping theatres open.
In 2012, he launched the Michael Grandage Company with a 14-month season of five plays at the Noel Coward Theatre in London that included more than 100,000 tickets sold at £10.
Speaking at the Whatsonstage Awards last week, where his company’s season won four prizes, Grandage said: “What we [the MGC] are significantly trying to do is make sure that young people have access to West End theatre, and the only way you can do that is through pricing.”
He added: “It stands to reason that if we don’t do it, the West End will close when this generation becomes senior citizens. Because who will replace the people who are now old? They will be dead shortly. If there’s nobody to replace the dead people then we won’t have a West End.”
The director described older audience members as the “backbone” of the West End but said it was important to bring in more diverse theatregoers, particularly at a young age.
He said: “These [older audiences] are people who are keeping our theatres open, not just in the West End but at the National Theatre, the Donmar Warehouse, the Almeida Theatre. They are a predominantly white, middle-class, middle-aged audience, but don’t knock them.
“What we want to do is make it more diverse, make sure the demographic is bigger and try to encourage people to come over many years, starting very young.”