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.
- cultural value
- audience response