Instant Download with all chapters and Answers
*you will get test bank in PDF in best viewable format after buy*
Chapter 2 – The Audience and Criticism
Conventions Critic Criticism
I. The audience is an essential part of theatrical performance
A. Audience perception of staged events completes the creative process
B. Audiences invariably form their own interpretations of the staged events and their significance.
C. The artists who make the performance typically work to evoke a desired audience response.
II. Experiencing a Performance
A. Attending a play differs in several ways from going to a film
1. Greater sense of special occasion
2. Tickets and seating
3. Programs and intermission
4. Audience response can affect the event
B. Theatre uses various devices to prepare audiences in advance
1. Advance publicity
3. View of stage and preshow music
C. Although there are no rules about how to experience a theatrical performance, the experience is generally
more interesting if:
1. The audience is willing to pay attention, concentrate and engage their imagination
a. The use of theatrical conventions (especially unfamiliar ones) may require an audience’s
b. The directors seek to direct the audience attention, but complete control of audience attention or
focus is impossible to achieve
c. Size and configuration of the auditorium affects audience response.
III. Who is the Audience?
A. Theatre audiences vary widely
1. Whereas some theatres select plays to appeal to the broadest possible range of audience interests,
others aim their selections towards the tastes of a very particular group
2. Most theatres are concerned about attracting new audiences
BOX – Culturally Conditioned Audience Response
Audiences are conditioned to respond differently to different types of performances
Conventions of audience behavior change markedly over time. Many audiences of the
past behaved in a more rowdy fashion than do today’s typical theatre audience
Similarly, audience behavior previously reserved for exceptional experiences (a standing
ovation) is now quite commonplace
B. Attracting new audiences is not easy and sometimes alienates existing patrons
1. Some theatres receive funding to encourage racial or minority groups to attend
2. Some theatres cater exclusively to minorities
C. Some theatres challenge the audience to appreciate unfamiliar forms of theatre
D. How can theatres attract young audiences and those groups who normally don’t go to the theatre?
1. Outreach and educational programs have met with some success
IV. The Audience and Critical Perspective
A. Do we need a critical perspective to enjoy theatre?
B. A simple three-step process may allow us to better articulate our response to a theatrical event
1. One has an experience
2. One analyzes the experience
3. One communicates one’s response to another
C. The professional critic needs:
1. A wide variety of theatrical experience
2. An understanding of the practices and processes that make up a production
D. Usually, the critic has a particular audience and purpose in mind
1. The general public and/or a specialized audience (academics, artists, etc.)
E. Some critics see themselves as consumer guides
F. The best criticism requires attention to both excellence and shortcomings
1. Some critics may provide less-than-balanced discussion
2. Some critics may provide description without passing judgment
3. Some critics may be condescending or flippant, but such criticism breeds antipathy
V. The Basic Problems of Criticism
A. The critic is concerned with three basic problems:
1. Understanding – What were the playwright, director and other theatre artists trying to do?
2. Effectiveness – How well did they do it?
3. Ultimate worth – How valuable was the experience?
B. Critics may follow several paths to answer questions relating to “understanding”
1. Some may study the playwright, the script, and the production team’s stated goals
2. Some may attend the production with no preconceived notions
a. Critics may (by necessity) have to write about the performance of a play they know little about
BOX – Influence of Criticism
Widely distributed critical opinion (through the reviews written in newspapers,
magazines, etc.) may influence ticket sales, but does not necessarily “make or break” a
production’s popular appeal
A reviewer’s response may influence how others respond because the reviewer may
establish a context that becomes associated with the production
BOX – Theatre for a New Audience
Founded in 1979 to make drama and theatre more accessible to young people, through
both attending performances and participating in creating theatre.
C. To answer questions related to “effectiveness” some critics may focus on the play’s intention or the
1. Some directors’ interpretations are at variance with a play’s intentions
D. Any response to “ultimate worth” assumes some standard against which worth can be measured
1. Assessment of “ultimate worth” is related to individual perspective and values.
2. Many contexts are used in evaluating relative worth
a. Uncovering the stated or implied criteria in a review can be very instructive
E. We should define for ourselves what makes a production satisfying or not
1. In assessing our own critical stance, here are some questions one might ask:
a. Am I open to unfamiliar subjects, ideas or conventions?
b. In the theatre, am I uncomfortable with moral stances that differ from my own?
c. Are there subjects I think should not be treated on the stage? If so, what?
d. What standards do I use in judging a play or performance? Why?
F. Developing a critical response
1. Ask the 3 major questions of critical assessment
a. What was attempted?
b. How fully was it accomplished?
c. How valuable was the experience?
2. Elaborate with other major questions:
a. What play was performed? Who is the playwright? What information about the playwright or
play is important for understanding the production?
b. Where and when did the performance take place? Will there be additional performances?
c. Who was involved in the production – producer, director, actors, designers, etc.?
d. What were the apparent goals of the play or production?
e. How effectively and fully were the goals realized (in the directing, acting, design elements)?
f. Should others see it? Why?
VI. Qualities Needed by the Critic
A. A critic should strive to be:
1. Sensitive to feelings, images and ideas.
2. As well acquainted as possible with the theatre of all periods and of all types.
3. Willing to explore plays and their production processes.
4. Tolerant of innovation.
5. Aware of his or her own prejudices and values.
6. Articulate and clear in expressing judgments and their bases
1. Why might the individual responses of various people attending the same performance of a play differ?
2. Should one take into consideration the context in which a performance takes place when estimating its value or
effectiveness? Should amateur performances be judged with the same standard used for professional ones? If
so, why? If not, why not?
3. What are some of the different purposes for a theatre critic? In what ways might any audience member be
thought of as a critic? What are the advantages to processing and articulating our responses to a work of art
(whether it is a theatre performance or a painting)?
4. Do theatre practitioners need critics? What potential value does criticism have on theatre practice?
1. You may wish to consider having your students attend a theatrical performance (or to watch a film of one if
attendance is not possible). Ask the students to write a critique that would be suitable for publication in a
newspaper. To expand on the project, ask your students to write two reviews – one that is wholly descriptive
without passing judgment, and another that elaborates on the major questions of critical response (listed on page
36 of the text).
Sample Quiz Questions
1. _____ Which statement BEST defines the rules about how to experience a theatrical performance?
A). The audience sits in the dark and quietly watches the play
B). The audience is encouraged to interact socially during the play, and come and go freely
C). There are no rules on how to experience a theatrical performance, but it may be more satisfying if one pays
attention and uses their imagination
D). The audience must read the play prior to the performance
2. _____ Audience response to a performance can be affected by which factor?
A). The size and shape of the auditorium
B). Other audience members
C). Each audience members’ imagination and concentration
D). All of the above
E). None of the above
3. _____ Which is NOT part of the three-step process for developing critical judgment?
A). One has an experience
B). One analyzes the experience
C). One develops a subjective response
D). One communicates one’s response to another
4. _____ Which is NOT one of the three basic problems of criticism?
5. _____ Although some theatre critics may write flippant remarks, the most constructive or useful criticism:
A). Balances itself with a discussion of both excellence and shortcomings
B). Provides sufficient description of the production for the reader to understand the experience
C). Seeks to understand, evaluate the effectiveness of the production, and relates (however subjectively) its
D). All of the above
E). None of the above
1. _____ A reader may re-read, reflect, and sustain several possible interpretations of a line, scene or entire play,
but the playgoer experiences the action and characters more immediately and directly.
2. _____ What the audience sees is always the only possible interpretation of a script.
3. _____ Theatres which produce plays intended for a small segment of the population (such as minorities) find it
much easier to attract an audience than theatres whose goal it is to appeal to the community as a whole.
4. _____ Professional critics always adhere to a single context in making their judgments.
5. _____ Some plays and musicals have met with negative or mixed reviews and still achieved popular success.
1. In critically assessing a work of art, what three major questions does a critic need to ask? State each question
and explain its meaning and implications.
2. Why is it sometimes difficult for theatres to attract new audiences? What obstacles stand in the way of this
endeavor? What are some of the ways theatres have tried to attract new audiences? How successful do you
think these practices might be on you and your peers?
Multiple Choice: (1) C pg. 26, (2) D pg. 26-27, (3) C pg. 32, (4) B pg. 34, (5) D pg. 32-36
True/False: (1) True pg. 25, (2) False