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Pay as you like it at Grand

Ruth Eastwood, new chief executive at Blackpool's Grand Theatre.

Ruth Eastwood, new chief executive at Blackpool's Grand Theatre.

Audiences at Blackpool’s Grand Theatre responded in kind to a scheme inviting them to pay as much as they liked to see a live show.

The resort venue held a successful ‘pay what you feel’ performance of English Touring Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe’s Eternal Love in a bid to encourage new audiences to enjoy theatre.

The opening night of the production, on March 11, saw the audience asked to pay for the performance at the end of the night based on what they thought it was worth.

The average price paid on the night was £11.83, but many paid much more, including the highest at £25 – £5 more than what would have been a full price ticket.

Theatre bosses said they can not disclose the total amount paid but have hailed the night a success and are now working on other ways to bring in new audiences.

Chief executive Ruth Eastwood said: “It was great to see such an enthusiastic response to this trial.” 

The 1,100 capacity venue saw more than 40 per cent of seats filled for the opening night.

It was the first of many planned at the Grade II listed theatre for the next two years, to find new ways to give people opportunity to experience the theatre regardless of their financial situation.

Mrs Eastwood added: “One customer wrote to me afterwards to say that she’d like to see more of this kind of programming in the future – the actors were brilliant, the costumes were lovely and the initiative encouraged her to return to the theatre after several years of non-attendance. That’s exactly the kind of reaction we were hoping for.”

Around 70 per cent of the audience were from the Fylde coast but others travelled from as far as Reading and Shrewsbury for the special performance.

Grand Theatre marketing manager Andrew Howard said: “The Grand is committed to bringing quality drama productions to Blackpool. We hope this will help many more people enjoy a night at our lovely theatre.”

Eternal Love tells the story of a wild affair between philosophy teacher Abelard and his student Heloise, and the controversial and radical views which led them to question figures and beliefs of the day.

The production was part of a national tour between eight venues which work to bring shows to areas that rely on touring productions.

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