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Michael Grandage: ‘Stars like Nicole Kidman bring new audiences to theatre’

Michael Grandage says directors must engage a new generation of theatre audiences. Photo: Marc Brenner Michael Grandage says directors must engage a new generation of theatre audiences. Photo: Marc Brenner
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Director Michael Grandage has defended star casting in theatre, claiming it is “enormously” helpful in attracting new audiences.

Grandage is directing Nicole Kidman in Photograph 51 at the Noel Coward Theatre, and said that casting Hollywood actors was an opportunity to develop new audiences for theatre, which he described as “absolutely crucial” to the future of the industry.

”Having [Kidman’s] name on the poster helps people come to see a play and hopefully when they get there they will be engaged with a subject that they might not have come to the theatre for,” he said. “It helps enormously sometimes. Whether it’s something that needs to be the case all the time in the West End, I think it’s already proved that it doesn’t. There are productions in the West End that don’t need huge stars. I think it’s a balance really.”

Grandage also said there was “an onus of responsibility” on directors and producers to improve accessibility and engage a new generation of theatre audiences.

“Our hope is that… if [audiences] have such a good time that they might develop a long relationship with theatre. There is an onus of responsibility on us to make sure we deliver… That needs to be part of the subsidised sector, part of everything, or we won’t even be sitting here in a few years.”

He was speaking at an event alongside Kidman, who returns to the London stage after 17 years to take part in Photograph 51.

She admitted that despite a long acting career, “the nerves get more as you get older”.

“I’d love to say they get less but they don’t. It’s an extreme feeling. [Working in film] I haven’t had that immediacy with an audience. To not have that for so long, it’s like being starved,” she said.

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