Saturday morning, and across my computer screen flits a picture of a happy customer standing outside the Citizens’ Theatre in the Gorbals, clutching a ticket for the company’s current production of Sam Shepard’s True West, and a giant replica of a 50p piece.
The customer is one of the happy crowd who – by joining a long early-morning queue – landed one of the 100 tickets that go on sale for 50p, on the Saturday before the opening of each Cits’ production. And the price is special not only because it is very low – compared with a £14-£19 full price ticket – but because it represents a deliberate tribute to that great phase of the Citizens’ history, back in the 1970s when the great north wall of the theatre bore the giant legend “All Seats 50p”, in writing that could be read a quarter of a mile away, across the Clyde.
It wasn’t then – and it isn’t now – that the Citizens’ was a home of “poor theatre”, in the sense explored by the great Polish director, Jerzy Grotowski, in the 1960s.
At the Citizens,’ during the famous directorship of Giles Havergal, Philip Prowse and Robert David MacDonald, there was always a fair amount of public subsidy, and what looked like a lavish and gorgeous approach to scenic design. The triumvirate knew, though, that theatre needed an open, accessible, and honest relationship with the widest possible audience to have any hope of remaining alive, and truly radical. The “All Seats 50p” slogan was consciously designed to break down any barriers of class and wealth that still cling around the idea of theatre, and to invite all the people of Glasgow into the building; they came in their thousands, and for many the experience was life-changing.
Source at : THE scotsman