British Theatre Consortium

Theatre Spectatorship and Value Attribution Final Report


Critical Mass: Theatre Spectatorship and Value Attribution is a research project looking at how theatre audiences value the experience of attending performances. The focus is on the self-reported descriptions of experiences of individuals who attend the theatre, which was gathered mainly through online questionnaires, interviews, and creative workshops. We also tapped memory by asking some subjects about a performance they saw one year  or more ago. The research examined how individuals process the cognitive and affective experience of seeing a theatre performance in relation to their context (location, identity, and moment-in-time), their previous theatre histories, and their associational networks.

Click on the cover to read the report.

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WHO LED THIS PROJECT AND WHO WAS INVOLVED? This project was led by the University of Warwick, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and was  carried out in collaboration with Royal Holloway University of London, Manchester Metropolitan University, and The British Theatre Consortium (BTC), a small think-tank of academics and artists. Professor Janelle Reinelt (Warwick) was the principal investigator; Professor Dan Rebellato and Senior Lecturer Chris Megson of Royal Holloway, and Senior Lecturer Julie Wilkinson of Manchester Metropolitan were co-investigators. The playwright David Edgar was consultant to the project  and Dr. Jane Woddis was Project Manager–all are members of the BTC. In addition, the project had three theatre partners: the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Young Vic, and the Drum Theatre in Plymouth, who facilitated this research.

10 thoughts on “Theatre Spectatorship and Value Attribution Final Report

  1. I attended the RSC meeting last Thursday and on reflection wanted to say that it occurred to me that one of the motivations for people talking about their theatrical experience is quite different to that which the project has concentrated on. We rarely feel moved to discuss a theatre experience because we have been but more often it is simply that we wish to demonstrate to others that we are both interesting, informed and intelligent…by virtue if the fact that we are a) attendees and b) actually going out.The reason I think peoples view didn’t change after such discussions would be that most people you discuss your experience with wouldn’t have attended the event themselves, therefore in most cases that conversation would be a broadcast of information rather than a discussion.

    Best wishes


  2. I attended the meeting in Stratford last week and found it very interesting. The audiences at the RSC and The Young Vic are a much more dedicated theatre going audience than, say, a typical West End Show. It would be interesting to carry out a similar survey on a long running show there and also a musical – why not “Les Miserables”? It might also be interesting to do a similar survey of school groups attending the RSC – the schools must be known, and I am sure teachers could be persuaded to take part. The dedicated theatre goer is more likely to be from Social classes A and Ba as your survey suggested, but a captive young audience from aa school would be very interesting. One of the big problems facing theatres is to involve young people and ethnic minorities, both of whom are poorly represented, without driving away the regular theatre goers. i attended a most interesting discussion at the National Theatre a year or so ago chaired by Paterson Joseph, about trying to attract ethnic minorities to the theatre, but came away with little in the wy of ideas, as what was being talked about would not have encouraged me to the theatre. Please keep me informed about progress, as I have been a dedicated theatre goer for over 60 years and intend to continue as long as my legs hold out!

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