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Audience Engagement

Content in this section centers one crucial aspect of theatremaking: the audience. How do theatremakers identify and attract the right audience for a particular work? What are the different levels of engagement, from simple spectatorship to participation? Amrita Ramanan’s 2013 series gathers thoughts from leaders in the field and is a great place to start, as are videos from Theatre Communications Group’s 2015 Audience (R)Evolution Convening.

The Latest

How Theatre Can Create Positive Change in Our Food Systems
Essay
How Theatre Can Create Positive Change in Our Food Systems
by Elena Morris
29 May 2024
Building “New” Audiences
Essay
Building “New” Audiences
by Ravi Jain , Miriam Fernandes
10 April 2024
The Virtuosity of Black Storytelling with Tarell Alvin McCraney
Podcast
The Virtuosity of Black Storytelling with Tarell Alvin McCraney
by Jordan Ealey, Leticia Ridley, Tarell Alvin McCraney
6 March 2024
An actor speaks into a microphone in a dimly lit space.
How Theatre Can Create Positive Change in Our Food Systems
Essay

How Theatre Can Create Positive Change in Our Food Systems

29 May 2024

Food Tank’s Little Peasants bridged theatre and advocacy by staging an interactive play set during a union vote at a fictional international coffee chain. Elena Morris discusses the play’s development process and its place in the theatre-based food systems advocacy strategies employed by the nonprofit Food Tank.

A group of performers dance onstage.
Building “New” Audiences
Essay

Building “New” Audiences

10 April 2024

After being asked to share his thoughts on the future of international touring, Why Not Theatre founder Ravi Jain offers some of what he’s learned about engaging “new” audiences and building lasting relationships between artists and presenters.

A promotional graphic for the Daughters of Lorraine Podcast.
The Virtuosity of Black Storytelling with Tarell Alvin McCraney
Podcast

The Virtuosity of Black Storytelling with Tarell Alvin McCraney

6 March 2024

Hosts Leticia Ridley and Jordan Ealey interview Oscar winner and MacArthur genius Tarell Alvin McCraney about his work as a playwright, how Black people tell stories, and what it means to be an artistic leader.

A group of people ask questions to a panel.
Towards a Sustainable Theatre Model
Essay

Towards a Sustainable Theatre Model

27 February 2024

Scott Walters, author of Building a Sustainable Theater: How to Remove Gatekeepers and Take Control of Your Artistic Career, sits down with Munroe Shearer to discuss the ways artist-owned theatres can succeed and best serve their communities. 

A man stands with his back to the camera and stares at an empty set on stage.
Can’t Do Theatre by Yourself
Essay

Can’t Do Theatre by Yourself

23 January 2024

Latinx theatremakers Jorge Piña and Christin Eve Cato sit down for a conversation about their paths through the theatre field and their advice for future generations looking to sustain this work while caring for themselves and each other.

Trevor Boffone films an actress singing into a microphone onstage.
Five Ways to Maximize Your Theatre’s Social Media Presence
Essay

Five Ways to Maximize Your Theatre’s Social Media Presence

21 November 2023

When utilized fully, social media can function as a critical extension of work being done onstage. Trevor Boffone pulls from his experience as a content creator and social media manager to share concrete steps that theatremakers and theatre companies can use to leverage the unique potentials of social media. 

event poster for the fall forum marketing and audience development panel.
Marketing and Audience Development Panel
Video

Marketing and Audience Development Panel

Wednesday 25 October 2023
New York City

Audiences are not “back” to pre-pandemic levels, and there may be a variety of compounding reasons why. ART/New York convened a panel of marketing specialists with an array of perspectives to talk about what’s working, what’s not, and what new strategies we might try in order to best reach and engage our audiences.

A man in business attire cheers in front of a team of football players.
Dear England/England Now
Essay

Dear England/England Now

19 October 2023

Spurred on by the National Theatre production of James Graham’s Dear England, verity healey discusses the notion that theatre in the United Kingdom might have a few things to learn from football.

A man holding cards for a speech and a woman who smiles and claps stand together on stage.
Decolonizing Arts Leadership Through Shared Black and Indigenous Leadership
Essay

Decolonizing Arts Leadership Through Shared Black and Indigenous Leadership

12 September 2023

David Howse and Ronee Penoi, co-leaders of ArtsEmerson, introduce the Black and Indigenous Futures Series with an essay that discusses their commitment to a shared leadership approach that foregrounds solidarity between Black and Indigenous communities.

From the Ground Up Podcast Teaser image featuring guest profile image.
Ontroerend Goed’s Participatory Metaphors
Podcast

Ontroerend Goed’s Participatory Metaphors

24 May 2023

Artistic director of Belgian theatre company Ontroerend Goed, Alexander Devriendt talks through their process for imagining and developing participatory content. Alexander and Jeffrey Mosser also dig into financing art in Europe, the cost of touring internationally and how COVID has affected it, and sustaining family and art simultaneously.

From the Ground Up Podcast Teaser image featuring guest profile image.
Turning City Council Meetings into Performance
Podcast

Turning City Council Meetings into Performance

10 May 2023

Creatives and book authors Mallory Catlett and Aaron Landsman dig into their new book based on their piece City Council Meeting, an exciting performance, rooted in a commonplace bureaucratic event, that develops dynamic participatory relationships with audiences and local government.

Critical Stages in Malawian Contemporary Theatre teaser image with the title at the top and a picture of the guest in the middle.
How YDC Theatre Leaders Are Navigating Malawi’s Changing Theatre Environment
Podcast

How YDC Theatre Leaders Are Navigating Malawi’s Changing Theatre Environment

4 January 2023

YDC Theatre has been producing theatre consistently in Malawi, even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. They join Fumbani Innot Phiri, Jr. to trace the connections between the company’s consistent work centering Malawian perspectives, their efforts to build an audience, and the political and funding climate that they must navigate.

Critical Stages in Malawian Contemporary Theatre teaser image with the title at the top and a picture of the guest in the middle.
Reinventing Malawian Theatre for a New Generation
Podcast

Reinventing Malawian Theatre for a New Generation

7 December 2022

Jack Msumba, creative director of Youth Developers Collaboration Theatre, has big ideas for the future of Malawian theatre. In this interview, he shares his plans to eventually build Malawi’s first theatre house by producing work consistently in schools, communities, and commercial settings.

A screenshot of 3 actors on Zoom performing a musical in costume.
The TikTok Revolution
Essay

The TikTok Revolution

9 August 2022

Katy Zapanta champions TikTok as a platform with the potential to revolutionize the theatre industry’s systemic issues.

An audience member being tucked into bed by an actor on stage.
Playable Plays: Toward a New Interactivity
Essay

Playable Plays: Toward a New Interactivity

18 July 2022

Theatremaker Drew Paryzer discusses the creative potential of interactive art and the impact that the “playability” of a show can have on audiences.

Kunafa and Shay Teaser Image.
Iranian Theatre Companies
Podcast

Iranian Theatre Companies

With Parmida Ziaei (Seda, Seattle) & Shadi Ghaheri (Peydah, NYC)

11 May 2022

In the greater conversation about MENA or SWANA identity, many national and ethnic groups do not neatly fit into that category or are in between geographic areas. One of the largest groups that are both within and without what is considered the “Middle East” is Iran. So many Iranian leaders are making intentional space for the diversity and specificity of their culture by creating companies for Iranian artists. In this episode, we highlight two Iranian theatre companies: Seda Iranian Theatre Ensemble in Seattle, WA, and Peydah Theatre Company in NYC.

Cast members standing side by side in a field.
Theatre on the Street: An Independent Theater Hungary Case Study
Essay

Theatre on the Street: An Independent Theater Hungary Case Study

11 April 2022

Rodrigó Balogh and Márton Illés discuss the process of creating outdoor theatre performances and share their experience producing them with Independent Theatre Hungary.

Actress Tawana Montgomery playing Deborah Scott. Photo credit: Greg Mooney
Organizing History in the Alliance Theatre’s Working: A Musical
Essay

Organizing History in the Alliance Theatre’s Working: A Musical

17 August 2021

Margarita Kompelmakher details the Alliance Theatre’s process of adapting Working into a community-engaged production that both modeled grassroots organizing and told the story of the work of organizers in the city.

A woman holding a syringe and examining it.
Transcending Theatre: My Time with Robbie McCauley
Essay

Transcending Theatre: My Time with Robbie McCauley

20 July 2021

Tara Brooke Watkins reflects on the legacy of Robbie McCauley, who challenged the status quo of theatre systems, from the classroom to the rehearsal room to productions.

An image of six actors forming a semi circle around and actor standing on actors block , The actor on the block, is lifting food to their mouth with pained expression.
The Classical Theatre of the Oppressed
Essay

The Classical Theatre of the Oppressed

Adapting The Vagina Monologues in Malawi

13 April 2021

Fumbani Innot Phiri Jr. details the creative process of the production of The Vagina Monologues that took place during 16 Days of Activism in Malawi and offers his thoughts, as an audience member, on the show’s big impact.

two people kneel in front of ornate architecture, petting a black and white cat
Meet the Hosts
Podcast

Meet the Hosts

Kunafa and Shay: Episode 1

31 March 2021

In this first episode of Kunafa and Shay, meet our hosts Nabra Nelson and Marina J. Bergenstock!

Illustration of Black people tearing down barriers.
A Future Built by Us
Essay

A Future Built by Us

An Imagination Exercise with The Movement Theatre Company

25 March 2021

The Movement Theatre Company members David Mendizábal, Deadria Harrington, Eric Lockley, Taylor Reynolds, and Ryan Dobrin share their visioning for a more equitable theatre field.

an actor onstage
Adapting to Pandemic Regulations
Essay

Adapting to Pandemic Regulations

A New Way of Performance Watching for an Old Classic

4 March 2021

Merve Parla shares her experience with Netherlands-based dance company Club Guy & Roni’s recent production of Swan Lake, an interactive experience with both offline and online components.

an actor onstage
Alternate World Design During the Pandemic and Beyond
Essay

Alternate World Design During the Pandemic and Beyond

11 February 2021

Heidi Coleman and Patrick Jagoda discuss alternate reality games (ARG) as a means of motivating audiences to take action, what goes into creating ARGs, game-based improvisation, and more.

zoom screenshot
Whose America and Whose Dreams?
Essay

Whose America and Whose Dreams?

26 January 2021

Zeina Salame sits down for a conversation with Leila Buck and Tamilla Woodard to talk about their most recent creative collaboration, American Dreams, online audience interaction, and more.

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