Convener(s): Maria Oshodi, Extant 

Participants: Maria Oshoid, sue Rolfe, Karina Jones, Antony Haddon, Wendy Wendle

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Maria has produced theatre for the past 20 years but has found it difficult to get objective feedback essential for the development of artistic work.

Channels of feedback examined:

  1. Media – discussed the fact that theatre critics tend to be similar in background and biased towards editors’ objectives and agendas, plus they do not have enough knowledge sometimes of the cultural perspectives of the companies they are reviewing. Even radio programmes like Front row and websites such as are run by the same sort of people – white middle class old fogies (even the younger generations)
  2. Audiences – difficult to harness the full range of responses. Views of friends and colleagues compromised because of reluctance to give their true responses in some cases because of vested interest. In respect of theatre performed by disabled professional performers, mainstream critics feel more comfortable to describe productions rather than critique them (which is patronising) or make crass remarks about the ability of the actors ‘not to fall off the stage’.



  1. Wendy suggested taking work to scratch nights at Cockpit or BAC where knowledgeable give comparative feedback on what they see.
  1. Anthony’s clapometer – listen to the audience type of clapping. He has developed this by introducing a scheme whereby the audience ‘articulated’ a noise reflecting their reaction to the show. The group thought it would be good to vocalize this response possibly during and after the show – and telling the audience to make their feelings clear. This would get better response than formal audience surveys in which people invariably lie.
  2. Maria suggested setting up a forum website to be set up and run by practitioners (Not by theatre critics or arts journalists) which would give more realistic feedback. Contributions could be sought from the general public as well as the profession and could be anonymous to elicit a more truthful response. Crucial issue is the host vehicle for such a forum. The Stage and SOLT for instance would not necessarily be right. The website could be promoted in theatre programmes.