Understanding Audience Experience in an Anti-Expert Age: A Survey of Theatre Audience Research

Researchers who seek to capture and analyse audiences’ responses are facing a dilemma. In an international political climate beleaguered by efforts to delegitimise expertise, what are the implications for a research tradition that seeks to complexify value? In light of interest generated by the 2009 publication of Helen Freshwater’s Theatre & Audience and the subsequent launch in January 2017 of the international Network for Audience Research in the Performing Arts (iNARPA), the time seems ripe for a detailed critical overview of the audience studies tradition. By revealing the potentials and limitations of the field, this article seeks to query how future empirical projects might productively investigate theatrical spectatorship in a post-truth world.

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