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An Offering On...

Investing in the Liberation of the Audience Engagement Experience

Reconstructing Theatre "Etiquette":

Background:

For Matthew's senior year of college, they decided to pursue a thesis on theatre etiquette. 

The seeds for this paper were planted four years ago during his senior year of high school. He watching a performance of Hamlet and across the theater from them was a group of students of color. The group was whispering to each other about the show and occasionally talking to the actors. At one point, the chaperone came over to them and told them to be quiet. Matthew witness the students shift from being engaged in the world of the show to utterly disengaged.  

Thanks to the publication of We See You White American Theatre, playwrights Erika Dickerson-Despenza and Dominique Morriseau, and many more, Matthew has been given the language to name what they witnessed at Hamlet

Using the language given to him, this paper offers strategies for reconstructing theatre audience etiquette towards a more equitable and accessible experience for all audiences. 

Overview:

Grown from the work of Dominique Morisseau and Erika Dickerson-Despenza, Matthew’s thesis is an offering on reconstructing how the theatre approaches the idea of "etiquette". 

During a theatre performance, the audience has been socialized to be a silent spectator rather than a co-creator of the theatrical experience. 

However, examining the history of theatre going, this has not always been the case. 

By investing in both past and present theatre going practices, this thesis offers strategies to curate the audiences' experience in order to enable a liberated space for audience engagement. The paper is broken in to three main sections:

  1. Lineage of Theatre Audiences

  2. Organizing Principles for Reconstruction

  3. Offerings for Curating a Liberated Space for Audience Engagement

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