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Encouraging The Crowd: Putting Them Bottoms On Seats (UPDATED)

Update: While the below is still all correct fact, I have just had a telephone conversation with the Flash marketing team and learnt that there are a few reasons for the increased prices this year which are out of their control. It is sad that the increased levels are quite so much, but as I originally said costs are there to be covered, so it looks like the prices are there to stay.

What I will make clear however is that none of the below should appear negative towards the event. Flash 2014 was wonderful, and I am certain having previously seen those that are to perform, 2015 will be more the same. My only gripe is with the price hike. If your wallet can stand it, there is nothing more that I would recommend higher. These may be student shows, but don't be snooty about it, these are up there with many a professional performance you will see, and you might just be at a performance of a superstar of the future. Open your wallet wide and go.


Two of the highlights last year for me in my new world of theatre going were the weeks of the National Theatre Connections and the University Of Northampton's Flash Festival. During these weeks there were multiple performances: twelve in Connections (some play repeats, but different performers) and fourteen different shows in Flash. If you attended all of them (I didn't quite make it, but was close), they would have set you back £123 for the privilege.

This year the price goal posts have changed quite a bit. There are again fourteen Flash shows, while the National Theatre Connections at Royal & Derngate have been increased to fourteen. Connections have increased in price just by a single pound coin to £6 a show, which in theory is nothing to worry about. Unless you might want to support all the shows that is. Flash however has undergone the most radical and painful to the pocket change. There was a crowd encouraging Festival Ticket in 2014 which allowed you five shows for £21. This lovely and friendly ticket dropped the individual prices from £8.00 a show to a gorgeous £4.20. This year the festival ticket has gone and been replaced by a rather cumbersome and generally pointless "General Public Route" ticket for Saturday (an option on Wednesday as well, I believe), £15 for three shows. While this will be great for what are described as "general theatre-goers of Northampton", it is inflexible and offers nothing for those that may be able to attend at other times. So without that option and the festival ticket gone, it is bang £8.00 a show, thank you very much.

Now, don't get me wrong. £6.00 and £8.00 for an hours entertainment it perfectly fine. However these are feature weeks and positively glow with the idea that you might attend all the shows. Therefore the money ratchets up a great deal. As I said above, last year the two full weeks would have cost you £123, this year however to fully support all of the shows and performers of these two weeks, you are looking at £196.

That quite frankly is too much, and is I am afraid very disappointing. During Flash last year, I sat in pretty empty venues on many occasions (other than students that were performing in other shows) and Connections was quite often similar. This year there might be another empty seat for a few shows as well. Costs have to be covered certainly, but increasing prices it not going to solve it. The only thing that will help the situation are bums on seats, and offering no incentives at all will sure not put them there.

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