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The Reasonable Audience: Theatre Etiquette, Behaviour Policing, and the Live Performance Experience

Research output: Book/ReportAuthored book

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
Publisher or commissioning bodyPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages174
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-99166-5
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-99165-8
DateAccepted/In press - 21 Jun 2018
DatePublished (current) - 19 Nov 2018


Audiences are not what they used to be. Munching crisps or snapping selfies, chatting loudly or charging phones onstage – bad behaviour in theatre is apparently on the rise. And lately some spectators have begun to fight back…

The Reasonable Audience explores the recent trend of ‘theatre etiquette’: an audience-led crusade to bring ‘manners and respect’ back to the auditorium. This comes at a time when, around the world, arts institutions are working to balance the traditional pleasures of receptive quietness with the need to foster more inclusive experiences. Through investigating the rhetorics of morality underpinning both sides of the argument, this book examines how models of 'good' and 'bad' spectatorship are constructed and legitimised. Is theatre etiquette actually snobbish? Are audiences really more selfish? Who gets to decide what counts as ‘reasonable’ within public space?Using theatre etiquette to explore wider issues of social participation, cultural exclusion, and the politics of identity, Kirsty Sedgman asks what it means to police the behaviour of others.

    Research areas

  • theatre etiquette, audience research, theatre history, audience response, liveness, performance



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