Lone Theatre-Going: Yay or Nay?
Now before I start, I must admit one thing: I am not a single lady. That does not mean, however, that I know nothing about anything (please keep reading… it’s interesting, I promise). I have been to the theatre so many times on my own that it has become habitual – or rather, it has certainly become the norm.
I’d like to share a couple of recent encounters that may encourage those who consider themselves lonely theatre-lovers to be brave enough to step out and see the wonderful things that London especially has to offer.
The first took place overseas, in Jersey, where avid readers will know I spent a couple of weeks acting and writing for a piece of new work called “Archipelago“. Amongst the wonderful people I met out there, was one rather inspirational individual – who shall remain nameless – who has had a lifelong habit of always buying two theatre tickets. To every single show they have ever seen. They give the other one away to whoever wants it. You can imagine just how many shows an industry professional has been to, how many people they have brought along. I thought it was an amazing idea – perhaps you could invite a stranger? A work colleague you don’t speak to very much? A relative? A man? A woman? A friend? A foe?! The possibilities are endless… Less lone theatre-going, more lone ticket-buying.
The second took place yesterday. Really. I apologise in advance to the man involved in this anecdote, I don’t know your name (!) so I can’t ask you if this is okay… If you read this, please take this inclusion of your story as a compliment.
I went to see “People“, Alan Bennett’s new play at the National (and although I believe that this show is sold out, I urge you to try and get day tickets if you have time – it is pretty lovely…). I had bought a singular ticket, and took my seat next to a man who, until the interval, I believed was with the elderly couple sitting next to him. Pretty unaware of his presence for the whole of the first half – like I said, the play’s pretty captivating – it wasn’t until we were left alone in the interval that I really realised he was there.
Literally the only people left in our row – everyone else had gone to the bar – we were forced to talk to each other. About theatre, about London, about Alan Bennett. Very brief, interesting enough – a new face to meet. Second half began, second half ended, audience piled out and I went for the mandatory National Bookshop browse. I didn’t realise The Other Lone Theatre-Goer had followed me and was drumming up the courage to ask me out for a drink two seconds later.
I declined. Politely, of course. This isn’t a love story – or at least not in the way that you think. I don’t know his name, we’ll probably never meet again – but had we not been both alone, such an encounter (with whatever outcome) would never have happened…
So fall in love with going alone. People-watch. Eat ice-cream. Watch something amazing, and strike up conversation. Say yes to a drink and be together in your mutual solitariness. Never be lonely…
It really is a yay.