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TasteTheatre

Dateline: 8th November, 2011

TasteTheatre is the ultimate response to those who believe that the only way for theatres to succeed in the current economic climate is to cultivate a cutthroat business mentality.

This new collaboration between 12 major subsidised producing theatres in London is intended to create a mutual benefit by sharing ideas, information and, above all, audiences.

With the aid of the Arts Council, the cream of their breed, the Almeida, BAC, the Bush, the Donmar, Greenwich, Hampstead, the Lyric Hammersmith, the Royal Court, Soho, Theatre Royal Stratford East, the Tricycle and the Young Vic, have teamed up in an exciting new project.

The launch said much about the collaboration, taking place at the Young Vic but with an introduction from BAC's co--artistic director, David Micklem.

He explained that a new website, www.tastetheatre.com/, has been designed specifically to allow this wide variety of theatres to work and market much more closely together.

It is clearly aimed at younger potential audiences, the kinds of people who do not get to a theatre as much as they ought to or would like to.

The clean, modern design incorporates Facebook, YouTube and Twitter on its home page, allowing visitors to invite friends to the shows that appeal.

Choosing those shows is also possible in new ways. Visitors can select events by using a choice of keywords that seemingly have little to do with drama per se. For example, it is theoretically possible to mix up mindbending and dark with sensuous, Shakespeare and eat and drink to discover that no play fits all of these criteria. However, taking the first three, gives a choice of BAC' s fairy tale Bluebeard or the Young Vic's Going Dark.

Other possibilities include clicking on inspire me to get a random choice, Neil Labute's Reasons to Be Pretty at the Almeida, or choosing by category such as participation, which yielded no fewer than ten great nights out.

Having selected out the genre that appeals, dates can also be factored into the mix ensuring the perfect choice. Readers can then recommend shows it to others to Facebook or other social media. One glaring omission at the moment is a collection of the views of critics. According to Mr Micklem, these are currently not on the agenda because the website is trying to avoid including too much opinion, other than from members of the public who can make recommendations.

The key word throughout is collaboration, as theatres try to help themselves and their peers by working together rather than in opposition. Already, according to Micklem the site is helping to fill seats and persuade people to leave their comfort zone and try theatres in other parts of the city.

TasteTheatre is a great idea that deserves to succeed. Anyone fancying a night out at the theatre would be well advised to log on to this exciting new site and try it out.

Philip Fisher

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©Peter Lathan 2011