At the turn of the 16th century, in Shakespeare’s lifetime, more than a third of London’s population was seeing a play every single month.
London’s playhouses had a discerning audience from all walks of life who were hungry for new plays.
The spectators had a range of seating options available.
They could choose to pay for the cheapest ticket and be a “groundling”.
Groundling tickets cost £1 in today’s money and people crowded around the stage.
The next cheapest option was to pay a bit extra and sit in the galleries.
If they wanted, they could have paid an extra penny to get a cushion to sit on. The most expensive choice was to sit on a chair on the actual stage.
In contrast, today’s Eastbourne Congress or Devonshire Park Theatre tickets cost around the £15 to £20 mark, making an evening out for a couple with a family up to eighty – or even more - more pounds including a programme and refreshments, and a high percentage of an average wage.
Why does this matter?
Whilst it doesn’t for older people on healthy pensions it risks the possibility of theatre becoming the preserve of the comfortably off.
Eastbourne Theatres should consider a range of ticket prices to re-ignite the Elizabethan excitement of regular theatre-going and attracting all walks of Eastbourne life.
It could also ensure the next generation of Eastbourne theatre-goers and the very future of the theatres themselves.