Show Audiences Rise but Drama Productions Suffer; THEATRE: Lack of Cash Blamed for Fall in Quality
Byline: KAREN PRICE Arts & Media Correspondent
A NIGHT out at the theatre is a tradition that has been enjoyed for generations.
And it is good quality drama productions - whether they were penned by Stoppard, Shakespeare or up-and-coming writers - that usually attract the audiences.
But new figures reveal that while more people are attending the theatre in Wales, they now prefer opera and entertainment shows to traditional drama.
Theatre managers blame a lack of professional companies staging first class dramas and they now want to see more money invested in writing if the industry is to thrive.
"Theatre attendances are healthy but it is noticeably more difficult to get people to attend drama performances, " said Andy Eagle, director of Theatr Brycheiniog in Brecon.
"I am sure this is linked with the fact that there is a dearth of quality drama touring Wales on a regular basis so people are out of the habit of attending drama performances.
"There is not enough money in the venues to purchase the drama and not enough money in many of the companies to produce the drama."
The New Theatre in Cardiff stages a number of drama productions from both Wales and England.
Some of the bigger shows, like the recent To Kill a Mockingbird staged by Clwyd Theatr Cymru, attract capacity audiences.
"There are drama productions which do very well and others that don't do so well, " said a spokesman for the New Theatre.
Recent performances at the venue that have been most successful have been operas and entertainment shows with Welsh National Opera's production of The Magic Flute and the Christmas pantomime Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs doing particularly well.
In Abergavenny, the Borough Theatre's most popular productions are opera and tribute shows.
"There is a problem with attracting good-quality drama, " said marketing manager Marion Morden.
"The productions are not out there and it is more profitable to put on a tribute band."
Mold-based Clwyd Theatr Cymru is one of Wales's top theatre producers. …