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Oliviers 2017: Audience diversity ‘theatre’s biggest challenge’, claims Yerma director Simon Stone

Billie Piper in Yerma. Photo: Johan Persson

Audience diversity is the biggest challenge facing theatre today, Yerma director Simon Stone has claimed.

Stone collected an Olivier award for best revival for Yerma [1], which ran at the Young Vic last year.

He said: “When you go to the Young Vic, you see an incredibly multicultural audience, and you don’t see that almost anywhere else in the world. It’s people form all walks of life, it’s not just lefties, as people would like to say, it is people who are genuinely curious about the lives of others.

Asked if he thought broadening audiences was one of the biggest challenges in the industry, he said: ”Audience diversity is the [vital] thing. I grew up in Australia, a country that was full of people from so many different backgrounds and races, and theatre is the melting pot where you can make that literal. You can create a simulacrum of our society in the room, audiences as well as the actors.”

Stone, who also adapted the play for the Young Vic, went on to say that theatre’s role as a way of connecting people was becoming increasingly important.

He said: “Theatres and churches provide an incredibly important gathering place for ritual in our society. Theatres are becoming more popular because people feel more and more disconnected with each other. We feel more like we need to hold on to each other.”