A new, diverse audience for Monday night performances has helped stars of The Hothouse keep performances fresh throughout the hit show’s three month run.
Speaking at a press event yesterday the cast of Pinter’s dark comedy, which includes Olivier Award winner Simon Russell Beale, acclaimed star of stage and screen John Simm and emerging London theatre star John Heffernan, enthused about the different energy brought to the show at the start of each week by an audience drawn in by £15 tickets and a scheme that deliberately targets new theatregoers.
“Throughout the week you have a certain demographic of people who can afford to come, come because they love Pinter or might know the play,” actress Indira Varma told the press. “Then Monday nights come along and pull the rug. It means we have to adapt all the time because there are people out there who have no idea what to expect.”
“They’ve always been really exciting nights,” added Heffernan, who will soon take his first leading role at the National Theatre when he stars in Edward II. “It’s just palpably a very different atmosphere. There’s a lot of people there who you are introducing to theatre for the first time. They’ve not necessarily come in with preconceptions, so it’s a very honest response and really thrilling to play.”
The £15 ticket scheme, which is a feature of all the shows in the Jamie Lloyd-led Trafalgar Transformed season at the Trafalgar Studios, distributes half of all Monday tickets to schools and first time theatregoers through the Ambassador Theatre Group’s Creative Learning Department. The second half is made available to the public on a monthly basis, on the first of each month.
Speaking about the initiative director Lloyd, who will also direct the musical stage adaptation of The Commitments this autumn, said: “We try to constantly push out, be active, front-footed in engaging with a new audience. To see that genuinely diverse generational model of people in this audience I think is the thing I’m most proud of.
“It sounds as though there are only young people on Mondays. That isn’t the case. The front rows are always younger. But it can’t just be theatre for young people. We can’t abandon a whole load of theatregoers who happen to be of a certain age and class; that would be crazy. We want to welcome everybody. It’s the mix of generations, of backgrounds, that is the key to the entire season.”
Pinter’s The Hothouse, which sets its tale of power struggles and abuse in an unspecific institution, is the second production in the season, following the Olivier Award nominated production of Macbeth. It will be followed by a revival of Alexi Kaye Campbell’s The Pride, starring Captain America’s Hayley Atwell, Gavin And Stacey’s Mathew Horne, Harry Hadden-Paton and Al Weaver. The tale of a complex love triangle in both 1958 and 2013 begins its run at the Trafalgar Studios on 8 August.