The writer, whose TV credits include the BBC’s recent adaptation of His Dark Materials, made the generous gesture after promising to match the amount raised by the online audience for the Old Vic’s A Christmas Carol starring Andrew Lincoln.
Thorne adapted Charles Dickens’ original story for the play which has run at the venue in Waterloo for the last four years with theatregoers encouraged to donate spare change at the end of every show and this year’s 16 online performances continued that tradition raising £240,000.
Old Vic artistic director Matthew Warchus said Thorne got “a lovely surprise” when they told him how much he would have to give.
He said: “He was absolutely delighted I know it’s a hell of a lot of money and it is extraordinary generosity on his part and his wife. His email when we told him how much we raised was saturated with joyous swearing”.
The previous shows raised around £320,000 over three years and Warchus said he thought the “ease and immediacy” with which the online audience could donate at home had helped, as well the fact this year’s performance was seen by thousands more people online than can come to the theatre when it is open.
He said: “I think as well, paradoxically, when people are going through a tough time, it does seem that they are more generous”.
The money will support the work of Food Cycle, which reuses ingredients that would have gone to waste to create healthy free meals for people that need them across the UK.
Thorne, who started out writing on for TV for Shameless and Skins, wrote the stage play for Henry Potter and the Cursed Child.