The name might not make it sound like the most exciting place to be, but names are notoriously deceptive. Currently under the artistic leadership of Kevin Spacey, The Old Vic stages endlessly brilliant work, from The Playboy of the Western World to the sensational Noises Off to its current show: Brian Friel’s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler. The Old Vic has worlds to offer. And what’s more, The Old Vic has room for the young.
For a start, if you’re under 25, all you have to do is inform the box office of the fact, then bring ID along on the night to bag yourself £12 tickets and get treated to top quality theatre at a price cheaper than a central London cinema ticket. Good, eh? Not everywhere does that. And not only has The Old Vic room for the young, it also has room for Younger.
On Wednesday, The Old Vic threw open its doors to members and readers of A Younger Theatre to see Anna Mackmin’s production of Hedda Gabler, featuring Sheridan Smith, Adrian Scarborough, and a set so gorgeous I’d like to move into it.
For those new to the site, A Younger Theatre offers a platform for young people to express their views on theatre amongst other young like-minded theatre lovers. Much of what is to be read about theatre is written from the perspectives of those more advanced in years. It is this association of theatre with an older audience that contributes, in part, to the alienation from theatre that is still felt by a lot of young people today. The expense of tickets, the opulence of the more famous West End venues, the unhappy Shakespeare lessons, the older demographic… all these elements often lead to theatre being viewed with suspicion or boredom, or disregarded entirely by the younger generations, amongst whom must always be lurking the theatre makers of the future.
A Younger Theatre pledges to give younger perspectives on events, shows and concepts: supplying writing for the young by the young. Young journalists, reviewers and bloggers can offer their writerly services to the site and be sent out to see all kinds of theatre in exchange for stretching their writing muscles and airing their views on what they see on the AYT site. It allows young people to garner experience, see a lot of theatre they may not otherwise have come across for free, and interact with like-minded others in an open-minded environment.
It is inspiring to see venues like The Old Vic engaging with AYT, the young people they make an effort to accommodate, and inviting them forward to air their views. They are sincere in their support of the young; with their Under 25 scheme, their invitations to young theatre lovers and the Old Vic New Voices annual 24 Hour Plays project, they have so much to offer. And when so much is on offer, you really must discover as much of it as you can. You’re only young once.