What is quality theatre, why do we look for it?

Tom Fox, 7 October 2012

This is not an easy report to write. Not because it wasn't a productive session or helpful, it was, emensly! But the question is deliberately open and hard, and one that doesn't have ONE answer.

Me and another (really sorry, can't remember name) were in a dance around the question for most of the session. The many silences explored the subject as well as the words said.

I'd like to start this report with a sequence:


Discussion over ‘where does quality sit’ with artists making work took us to these three places. To strive for quality we need the right tools to start. Once in the process quality comes from having something to say, whether it's to yourself, an object, a theme, issue ect, subconsiously or consiously. But we strive for the quality of the product don't we not? The holy grail, the special place, the greatest feeling… ?

And product: does quality come in your own evaluation, or others, or the feel of performing, or watching back? Audiences qualify performances as quality from the product, do performers do that too?

These questions can be answered in knowing if ‘quality’ comes from the whole picture or a bit of a part. Some people know themselves that they will never see a PERFECT piece of theatre, it doesn't exsist to them, and yes, most probable. But quality can come in the poetry or visual or physical part of a production, so it's not on the whole thing.

Think of a QUALITY STREET box! A box/performance/activity can have lots of different qualities, some you may personally not like, but can recognise. Should we think of theatre like that? The quality comes in its parts, not in its picture. Interesting discussions after shows with fellow audience members are guided by this comment, right?

Measuring quality is hard… should we be doing it, and how?

I know I've asked too many questions, but it shows the real feel of our session. Its a scary subject and one that can get quite argumental. It didn't, but we felt the strain of the lack of a definite answer or ending.

I'd like to end with how we ended. ‘I’m getting a dictionary' …


1. an essential or distinctive characteristic, property, or attribute: the chemical qualities of alcohol.

2. character or nature, as belonging to or distinguishing a thing: the quality of a sound.

3. character with respect to fineness, or grade of excellence: food of poor quality; silks of fine quality.

4. high grade; superiority; excellence: wood grain of quality.

5. a personality or character trait: kindness is one of her many good qualities.


quality, Theatre, Audience, tools, artist, artists, Process, process, audience, Quality,

definition, product, theatre