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 Posted: Wed Feb 28th, 2007 08:48 pm
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J Brian Long
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Mana: 
In another post, it was mentioned (and the overall sentiment echoed) that the

audience would determine a play's success.

 

Now, when I was asked to compose a poem for a funeral, I knew who would be

there and I wrote the poem to suit them and also the occasion. And, say, when I

gave a reading at the Writer's Guild, I chose a poem suitable for that audience.

Likewise, when I was editing the poems for my book, I knew that, most likely, only

other poets would be reading it, so I pared and culled and augmented accordingly.

(Keep reading, I promise I'm getting around to a question...)

 

What I am wondering is this: if one hopes to please an audience, I suppose one

should know who comprises that audience, right? 

 

So, who attends plays?

 

Can one say (and be correct) something like: "The typical audience member

is a heterosexual male with latent homosexual tendencies who enjoys

an occasional marijuana cigarette and has, more than once, been arrested

for disorderly conduct. He has an associate's degree from a community college

in an unrelated field to his present occupation..." and so forth and so on,

ad nauseum?

 

Or is every audience different in every town in every nation, etc?

 

I think I know what the answer probably is, but I have been wrong about

too many things to be certain about anything.

 

So: again: who goes there?

 

--J Brian Long

Last edited on Wed Feb 28th, 2007 08:49 pm by J Brian Long

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 Posted: Thu Mar 1st, 2007 08:46 pm
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nic
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Mana: 
Yeah, isn't that a good question? And of course there's no specific answer. I notice an article in the New York Times recently that suggested that the audience for plays is about 1/5 the audience for musicals and in the UK they're saying  that a name  will attract an audience. People go to see the actor not the show.

 Come back to community theatre groups or small fringe theatres and  the argument is ,if you want to get an audience do a comedy and I meet people in the street who say, Yeah it was good but I'm sick of icecream I want some steak.

What  would I do? From my observations the bulk of our audiences is made up of  30 something women and to build an audience my strategy is to find the sort of contemporary play that  this audience will relate to

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 Posted: Fri Mar 2nd, 2007 12:33 pm
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theactordavid
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Mana: 
J Brian Long wrote: Can one say (and be correct) something like: "The typical audience member

is a heterosexual male with latent homosexual tendencies who enjoys

an occasional marijuana cigarette and has, more than once, been arrested

for disorderly conduct. He has an associate's degree from a community college

in an unrelated field to his present occupation..." and so forth and so on,

ad nauseum?

J Brian, I think this describes a critic.  Particularly the ad nauseum part.

At our theater, the only thing I could say definitively about our audience that applies across the board is that they are alive. 

Last edited on Fri Mar 2nd, 2007 12:35 pm by theactordavid

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 Posted: Fri Mar 2nd, 2007 03:41 pm
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Luana Krause
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Mana: 
Fascinating subject for discussion.

I live in a small city (about 70,000 population). Our community theatre presents standard "little theatre" plays. For example, this seaons performances included: Gypsy, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Musical Comedy Murders of 1940, Man of LaMancha, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, A Walk in the Woods, and a children's performance of Witches.

For the first time, the troupe was allowed by the Board of Trustees to perform something a little bit different than the usual fare: "True West". Superbly done and well-received. Hopefully, it's success will lead to more plays of this calliber.

As for the question "who is the audience"... I think each audience is different. We learned this a couple of years ago with our church drama troupe.  At that time, our church had two morning services and we would perform the same comedy sketch for each service, both of which comprised members of the church. It never failed. The responses of the two audiences differed dramatically (no pun intended). If one group laughed at a gag, the other group was deathly silent, and vice versa. You just never know.

Luana

 

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 Posted: Sat Mar 3rd, 2007 08:21 pm
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muncy
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Mana: 
theactordavid wrote: At our theater, the only thing I could say definitively about our audience that applies across the board is that they are alive.
I wish I could be so confident!

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 Posted: Thu May 10th, 2007 08:41 pm
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Corerro
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Mana: 
What an interesting inquiry. Since I'm in grad school getting an MFA in Acting in a small illinois town, I've been confronted with the reality that those who select the seasons for our work have to think of their audience to ensure their survival. Tried trivial treasures, beloved musicals and pieces with large casts (for the slew of undergeads) can be found regularly. My experience here is that the audiences are mainly comprised of older (north of 60), middle class suburbanites who want to escape for 2 hours of their drone lives into happy, peppy people holding hands. In New York the Broadway scene seems to bring the same types with bigger bottom lines, more fur  etc... Unless you're in the Village-- think much younger, edgier, hungrier audience members.

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 Posted: Fri May 11th, 2007 08:13 pm
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bmcp
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Mana: 
Write for yourself.  I'm a big 'do it for the audience' type of person, but first and foremost, it needs to be good for you.

And another thought (one I've carried for the past 3 years) is to write for the audience that I want it to be:  young professionals - men and women who do not attend theater.  That was my goal with "A Classic Romance."  Got a few of them there and they enjoyed the water.  :)

betty

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 Posted: Mon May 14th, 2007 11:06 am
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Sam Stone
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Mana: 
Hey, guys, let's go back to the question of, "Who determines a play's success," at the top of this string.

Even though an audience can certainly have influence over a single production, the reviewer has, in my opinion, great power over the play's future.  I recently had a play flop at a community theatre because the local "christian" radio guy pronounced that my play had too much of the wrong kind of language - they actually spent several hours discussing the language of plays that day on the radio station.  Result was an average of 35 paid attendance in a 1200 seat auditorium in a city much the same size as Luana reports.  Here in the buckle of the bible belt times can be rough.  I still have hopes for better reviews in more progressive venues.

Critics have a great influence on the overall success.

Sam

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