For a year or so, David Edgar, David Brownlee and I (together with research assistants Clare Ollerhead and Wendy Haines) have been working on an Arts-Council-funded project to gather and analyse data about the British theatre repertoire. As a pilot project, Arts Council England funded us to gather the data for 2013. Partnering with UK Theatre/SOLT, we have gathered in information about 5,250 separate productions, giving us details of shows, performances, attendances, box office and more. Our information is divided by region, sector, genre, form, and gender of writer. We are confident this is the most comprehensive set of information ever gathered on the British theatre repertoire.
Highlights of our findings include:
- For the first time since records began, new work has overtaken revivals in the British Theatre repertoire. New work constituted 59% of all productions, 63% of all seats sold, 64% of all performances and 66% of box office income.
- However, despite recent west end successes for plays like like Posh by Laura Wade, Chimerica by Lucy Kirkwood and Enron by Lucy Prebble only 31% of new plays in 2013 were written by women. Women’s plays are given fewer performances, are presented in smaller theatres and earn less money.
- Meanwhile London continues to outstrip the rest of the country, in terms of numbers of performances (46% of the UK total), attendances (54%) and box office income (66%).
- Unlike plays, only 29% of musicals are new, but they run for longer (representing 64% of performances) and win more attendances (68%). Newly-scripted pantomimes also out-perform old ones.
- A quarter of new plays are adaptations (mostly of novels). However, 86% of those adaptations are newly-written.
- New children’s theatre is booming. For every ten plays written for adults, there are now six plays written for children and young people.
You can read the whole report here.