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

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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 understand cultural value from a range of diverse perspectives? 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 for and limitations of the field as a whole, this article seeks to query how future projects might productively investigate theatrical experience without diminishing the legitimacy of scholarly knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-322
Number of pages16
JournalTheatre Research International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017


  • theatre
  • spectatorship
  • cultural value
  • expertise
  • audience response


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