Leaving home: youth theatre must leave mum-and-dad audiences behind

Testing themselves away from the unconditional support of home-town audiences is vital to help young performers really gain confidence

The home-town audience for work made by young people can be incredibly generous, ready to ignore flaws and support every youthful indulgence with laughter and applause. So determined are they that the cast succeed, that even the quality of the production itself can feel like it doesn’t matter, as if it’s just a byproduct.

The atmosphere can be so partisan that anyone in the audience without a vested interest can be left feeling thoroughly confused by the reactions of everyone around them, as if they’ve strayed into some not-so-secret society. Worse, the audience’s misplaced generosity can do unwitting damage to the young performers themselves: they emerge post-show feeling thoroughly rewarded for a performance that the creative team then has to delicately unpick to improve on its faults and failures. READ MORE

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