SOLT Box Office data for 2022 makes for interesting reading

Ticket prices remain flat whilst costs rise is the headline message from the release of 2022 box office figures for SOLT’s London commercial and subsidised theatre sector members.

This is the first full set of annual figures published since 2019, as the onset of the pandemic and subsequent shutdowns disrupted data reporting in 2020 and 2021.

2022 has been widely recognised as a financially challenging year for businesses across the UK, and the theatre industry has been no exception.

Despite rising costs – not least significant increases in energy bills – producers and theatres have worked to ensure that productions remain accessible to as many people as possible. The average nominal ticket price has only risen by £2.21 since 2019, with the average price actually falling in real terms when adjusted for inflation from £52.17 in 2019 to £48.11 in 2022.

The reopening of venues closed for restoration and refurbishment in 2019, as well as fewer ‘dark’ weeks in venues contributed to a 7.9% increase in total capacity (available seats) compared to 2019, with the number of overall individual performances increasing by 4.7%. A combination of these factors contributed to a 7.1% increase in attendance in 2022.

This increased attendance has seen nominal revenue increase by 11.6% to £892,896,521 in 2022. However, adjusted for inflation since 2019, real revenue has fallen by 1.1%.

Although there has been a slight, yet encouraging increase of attendance in the West End, UK-wide theatre audience levels have not fully recovered since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information, visit SOLT’s website here


The battle to build Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre – watch Society of Theatre Research’s latest free online/in-person talk

Join the Society of Theatre Research for their next free lecture on 16th November at 7:30pm online or in-person at at St Anne’s Soho.

Entitled ‘Stirring Up Sheffield: The Battle to Build the Crucible Theatre’ the talk is given by Tedd George, son the first Artistic Director of the Crucible Theatre, Colin George.

The book they wrote together– Stirring Up Sheffield – won the 2022 STR Theatre Book Prize. Stirring Up Sheffield is the story of a group of visionaries who came together to build a revolutionary thrust stage theatre in Sheffield. Their daring venture marked the high watermark of experimentation in post-war British theatre, but it was to provoke a battle amongst the UK’s theatrical elite.

So why did Sheffield opt for a thrust stage, and why was this design so controversial? In this talk, Tedd George explores the intense debates over the theatre’s design, the people who inspired the thrust stage – among them Sir Tyrone Guthrie and Tanya Moiseiwitsch – and the brilliant architects and engineers who turned their vision into concrete and steel. Drawing on material from his father’s archives and interviews with the surviving protagonists, among them the Crucible’s architect, Nick Thompson, Tedd reconstructs the design process that created what is arguably the most successful thrust stage ever built in the UK, and the technical innovations that were developed to achieve this.

Tedd also explores the battle of ideas over the Crucible’s creation, which pitted the Sheffield Star, local councillors and the so-called ‘Three Knights’ – Sir Bernard Miles, Sir Laurence Olivier and Sir John Clements – against the Morning Telegraph and Britain’s leading theatrical innovators, among them Michael Elliot, Peter Cheeseman and Alan Ayckbourn. Ultimately this battle drove Tedd’s father to resign as Artistic Director only one year after the Crucible’s opening, and it would be nearly forty years before he returned to the thrust stage he had helped create.

Attend this free event in person or watch online – more details and booking here


25th October is also European Historic Theatres Day!

This Tuesday, 25 October, to celebrate European Historic Theatres Day, there is an illustrated talk at the V&A.

EUROPE’S NATIONAL THEATRES will be presented by Mike Sell (aided and abetted by Mark Fox).

As has now become custom, The Frank Matcham Society, in association with The Victoria and Albert Museum celebrate PERSPECTIV’s European Historic Theatres Day with an illustrated talk.Mike Sell, Vice-President of The Frank Matcham Society draws on his extensive travels and knowledge of European theatres to investigate the development of, and need for, National Theatres across an often troubled and divided continent.

Mike Sell is a historian and author specialising in theatre architecture who co-edited Curtains – a new life for old theatres and The Theatres Trust Guide to British Theatres 1750-1950; contributed to books Frank Matcham Theatre Architect and Frank Matcham and Co; authored Theatres and Concert Halls of Fellner and Helmer and in 2020 marked the centenary of Frank Matcham’s death publishing the Society’s Matcham Directory.

You could add to your day by visiting the new displays in the museum’s Theatre and Performance Galleries including the newly opened Re:Imagining Musicals. Entrance is free and the museum opens at 10am.

25 October 2.30pm

Hochhauser Auditorium, Victoria and Albert Museum,

The Sackler Courtyard Entrance,

Exhibition Road, South Kensington London SW7 2RL

Tickets only available from Ticketsource at www.ticketsource.co.uk (search for Frank Matcham Society)

(Tickets will not be available on the door or from the V&A)


25th October is THEATRECRAFT! Participate in-person or online

If you are aged 16-30 (or know others who are), and have an interest in the theatre as a potential future career, then you simply cannot afford to miss the invaluable, totally FREE, once-a-year event that is TheatreCraft 2022.

This year, on Tuesday 25th October, the doors of the Royal Opera House will open to the main event, with a wide range of events featuring top industry names, all ready to share their thoughts and insight with you. And with dozens of bookable workshops happening both online and at three nearby theatres, there is a huge range of things to do, see and participate in.

Responding to the shift to hybrid events, this year you can watch several key panel discussions LiveStreamed online on the Official London Theatre YouTube channel, which you can find here , including from 11.00am to 12 noon MAKING THEATRE AFFORDABLE, from 12.30pm to 1.30pm MAKING THEATRE SUSTAINABLE, from 2.30pm to 3.30pm MAKING THEATRE WITH NEW TECHNOLOGIES, and from 4.00pm to 5.00pm FREELANCERS MAKE THEATRE HAPPEN. Watch te live throughout the day on the YouTube link above!

TheatreCraft is the only major event focused on offstage careers, in other words anything but acting. Lighting, Directing, Choreography, Writing, Sound, Music, Costume, Props, Stage Combat, Stage Management, Venue Management and more are all represented. Workshops allow a rare opportunity to hear firsthand from experts about what they do and how they do it. In most events there is also time for questions from the audience, so you can get more involved.

Having been a small part of the management of this event for three years, I can tell you firsthand that there is no better place to go to boost your knowledge and meet thousands of like-minded people. It’s a great day which you should not miss!

The day itself is run by a fantastic team of fun, hard-working volunteers and the industry participants all give their time free to be involved. 

TheatreCraft is organised by a group of committed partners from across the creative and cultural industries: the Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust, the Royal Opera House, the Society of London Theatre and Mousetrap Theatre Projects.

For more information and all the latest news about TheatreCraft visit www.theatrecraft.org or find them on Twitter @TheatreCraft.


Read my Autumn Theatre Preview in BARBICAN LIFE magazine

Those of you who live in, near or visit the Barbican Centre, you may be interested to know that the Barbican Estate’s engaging magazine produced by the Barbican Association, BARBICAN LIFE, features a number of interesting articles.

I have been contributing Theatre Previews of events in and around the Barbican Centre for several years now. The Barbican Centre hosts a wide-ranging collection of productions which are always interesting, with many visiting companies from around the world adding to an eclectic programme of home-grown and Barbican Associate- generated projects. A trip to the Barbican Centre is always an illuminating one.

Read my latest Theatre Preview here