Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Donmar Offers Chance to Take the Best Seats in the House for Just [Pounds Sterling]10

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Donmar Offers Chance to Take the Best Seats in the House for Just [Pounds Sterling]10

Article excerpt

Byline: Louise Jury Chief Arts Correspondent

THEATREGOERS will be offered the best seats in the house at two weeks' notice and for just [pounds sterling]10 under a pioneering scheme designed to encourage new audiences.

Barclays Front Row, which will apply to two thirds of all front row seats, is aimed at those who have not previously attended a performance at the awardwinning Donmar Warehouse.

The hope is to overturn the impression that the hit factory Donmar is impossible to get into. It sold about 85 per cent of all seats last season.

Artistic director Josie Rourke said: "We're hoping to turn the imaginary sign on the door around from 'closed' to 'open' for new audiences. While some 'blockbuster' shows do sell out, more often than not there are tickets available, so it is unhealthy for people to see us as closed.

"We felt the best way of changing this perception was by creating an offer that made sure people could get constant, regular access to tickets without having to join a physical queue."

Film director Joe Wright, whose stage debut is part of the Donmar's new season, applauded the scheme, saying: "It's very important theatre is an inclusive experience."

Tickets will be held back and put on sale every Monday for performances two weeks hence. Ms Rourke said the front row was a thrilling way to experience the excitement of live theatre, particularly in a venue as small as the 250-seat Donmar.

The Barclays-backed scheme will mean there are seats available for people who want to book on recommendation or after reading a review. The theatre hopes it will encourage more Covent Garden workers to step inside.

Wright, 40, whose parents founded the Little Angel puppet theatre company in Islington, will direct the 1898 comedy Trelawny of the Wells, by Arthur Wing Pinero, at the Donmar in February. It is about a famous young actress who tries giving up her life on the stage for an aristocratic suitor.

The director of Atonement and Anna Karenina -- which premieres tomorrow -- said it would be lovely to do "something in joy". "To do something that is really fun was very appealing. I love comedy and it's not something I've done very much, he said. …

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