The National Theatre’s production of Macbeth broke multiple records at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre last week. Not only was there record attendance amongst young people, a total of 6502 audience members attended during the week – the largest audience for a Shakespeare title in the theatre’s recorded history.

Wolverhampton Grand Theatre was selected to be one of six venues involved in the National Theatre’s Theatre Nation Partnership, a three-year scheme designed to increase attendees of Drama. In order to fulfil this, a large-scale audience development project was also launched, focusing on school engagement, converting musical attendees into drama bookers and a drive on increasing the theatre’s South Asian Audience.

Across the week, the Grand Theatre achieved:
• 53% of the overall audience were first time attendees to the theatre.
• 3302 students saw Macbeth, totalling 50.7% of the total audience.
• Total of 90 visits from educational establishments.
• 12 out of the 19 Wolverhampton schools, colleges and the University attended brining 859 students.
• 240 students took part in the Grand Theatre’s first Student Conference learning about Shakespearean performance conditions, understanding the text and directing professional actors in their own interpretations of key scenes.
• 341 booked the Page To Stage event.
• 20 teachers took part in the Macbeth CPD project, continuing personal development.
• Traditional musical attendees made up 6.7% of the Macbeth audience.
• A Teachers Networking event arranged in collaboration with the Wolverhampton Cultural Educational Partnership (WCEP) attracted over 50 people.
• Over 100 under 26-year-olds attended which coincided with the theatre’s relaunched youth scheme sixteen25.

“The students really appreciated the day and gained from it, especially in the workshop where the actors demonstrated how adding in all the theatrical elements, lights, props, sound etc, could change an interpretation…I hope The Grand’s collaboration with the National continues as I think having access to such experience and quality is invaluable for local students and enables many to engage with the arts which would not otherwise be possible.”
Holy Trinity School, Kidderminster

The Grand commissioned Audience Development Consultant Hardish Virk to further engage with the South Asian Community which makes up 30% of the Wolverhampton Community. On 1 February the total of South Asian bookers represented 1.5% of the Macbeth audience. By the end of the run of Macbeth this figure was 10.5%.

Vicky Price, Associate Director of Development and Communications said; “The collaboration with the National Theatre has, and continues to be a thrilling experience for everyone at The Grand the actual show week for Macbeth was fantastic. The team here have worked so hard and their efforts have come to fruition.”