Normally when a theatre such as the Royal Court announces its new season there is much excitement among regular theatre-goers with conversations on Twitter about what is on offer and who is going to what and when.
When the Sloane Square theatre unveiled its offerings for the rest of the year via email and online at lunch time today, excitement among theatre tweeps quickly turned to annoyance and anger.
The reason? Well one of the plays is a new piece from Jez 'Jerusalem' Butterworth, something to be very excited about except that the theatre, in anticipation of high demand, is not putting tickets on sale in advance to members or indeed anyone. It is day seats only.
My first question, put to the Royal Court via Twitter, was why choose the bijou Jerwood Theatre Upstairs for the new play, called The River, rather than the much larger theatre downstairs if they are anticipating such high demand?
The answer from the Royal Court came in an extended Tweet:
We hope this way is fairer - meaning anyone can see the show (not just high level supporters). It's an intimate 3-hander & JTU best suits the play artistically. It's a v small capacity & if sold in advance there wouldn't even be enough tix for members to buy 2 each. We wanted everyone to have a fair chance of seeing Jez's new play.Day seats available online and in-person.
Interesting because the Royal Court's intimate two-hander Constellations, which also had its debut in JTU, is transferring to the large Duke of York's theatre in the West End in November.
@goldenavenger1 asked the Royal Court if they were planning to transfer The River to the West End to which there has been no reply.
And to pick up on the theatres intention of making tickets available to 'everyone', well they aren't. On Twitter @glenpearce1, @allisonadler and @susiesooze all pointed out that for those, like themselves, who live outside London, improvised theatre trips are tricky:
With a family, an elderly mother & work I have to make plans to travel in.Feels like discrimination & I'm sad as I love the theatre @Susiesooze
And it's not just people who live outside London that have babysitters to organise or have care responsibilities or have to plan ahead.
Earlier in the year I wrote to the Royal Court about its seeming disconnect with the world of ordinary people because it had unveiled its new season just two hours before the 9am ticket sale. It's marketing department promised to try harder.
I've just renewed my membership for the Royal Court - ironically I got the confirmation email outlining the benefits today - but I'm beginning to wonder why I bothered, when the primary (only) reason for handing over £25 is to get advance access to tickets. I know of one person who's already contacted the Royal Court to say they won't be renewing their own membership when it expires because of this ridiculous policy.
So instead of generating excitement about its new season, the Royal Court has generated cynicism. This from @nathanaelkent:
Of course it'll transfer. They just want a pic in the ES of people queuing overnight.
And this from @goldenavenger1
Clearly trying to create 'buzz' to shift tickets once it transfers.
All this could easily have been avoided by extending the run and/or only selling a portion of the tickets in advance, I believe on £10 Mondays it is standard practice.
Poor show Royal Court, for this you get a theatrical boo and hiss.
Related post from @glenpearce1: