Geoff Williams, 30 January 2013

The basic question that I had when proposing this session was ‘how is the audience

defined for each piece of theatre’? The discussion began from assessing where

considerations about the audience comes in to the creative process:

- Should it be part of the writing or devising of a piece of work? In other words, should

the artist write the work from the start with the audience in mind?

- How do considerations about the audience define what kinds of work a theatre puts


We agreed early on that these questions depend a lot on what kind of work is in

question. But there were two distinct points of view in the discussion, one from the

producers and one from the artists. They have different sets of considerations when

approaching work. The artists argued that work should not be built around an

audience, and the producers argued that taking on work had to do with keeping the

theatre vibrant and alive, which revolved around audience consideration. This being

said, they also said that theatres do take risks on new writing so it's not only

economics that drive the decision.

A useful outcome was the realisation that more of a dialogue between producers and

artists would be useful. Artists do need to exist within the economic constraints of the

times, and theatres which did not produce work which was successful would stop

getting funding so they have to be pragmatic.

A middle ground seems possible between artistic freedom and utilitarian economics,

but it seems to begin with talks like this and events like D&D. Unfortunately, being

good isn't enough for a piece of new work. It needs to be something which can be sold

(to an audience) as well, and this is where the producer comes in. Perhaps more

guidance from the producers earlier on would help, or artists learning some skills of



Audience, artist, audience, Funding, funding, producer, performer, Producer

Comments: 1

Dee Ishani, 5 February 2013

It's an interesting though and if you want to stray from the ‘norm’ then the marketing of the show is very important. I think

that we lack the language to communicate this change to an audience though and so it would need to be something -

possibly to start with - that can be replicated. This means that you could build on it over a few shows as I don't think it's

something that would necessarily ‘click’ with an audience first time.

The other side of it is whether audiences want something different? And how to convert a large enough audience to sustain

your work…..