Theatre’s audience figures up a fifth in City of Culture

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ONE of the most successful productions in a Yorkshire theatre’s history has helped boost the number of people coming to see a performance by over 20 per cent.

The Hypocrite, the fastest-selling show at Hull Truck, since the Ferensway building opened in 2009, followed by Mat Fraser’s Richard 111, helped towards a total of 37,510 theatregoers, up 8,000, over last January to June.

According to the latest figures, in City of Culture year, more of the audience is coming from outside the area, up seven per cent to 32 per cent.

It came as the theatre announced its second season, with highlights including The Suitcase from the Market Theatre of Johannesburg, and a world première based on Marina Lewycka’s novel A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian.

There’s a wealth of performances from local theatre companies and artists, including Hull-based Bellow Theatre’s Bare Skin on Briny Waters, about two young women standing on a cliff edge, steadily being blown on an unexpected course.

Visiting drama includes Not About Heroes, which is on a world tour, and tells the story of the meeting between the WW1 poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon.

Artistic director Mark Babych said The Suitcase was “very funny, very moving and had wonderful music by Hugh Masekala” while A Short History of Tractors was a snapshot of a generation “trying to understand their own roots and routes.”

Mr Babych said so far the year had exceeeded expectation. “There’s been a great reaction to the work all round,” he said.

Much depends on tomorrow’s announcement of the next four year’s National Portfolio Funding from the Arts Council. Hull Truck currently receives £790,680 in NPO funding.

But Mr Babych said the City of Culture programme would carry on into the early part of next year, with a new play by a “very high profile” playwright. “It’s not of the scale of that show (The Hypocrite) but I think it will have some topical interest,” he added.