Monday, November 30, 2009

The Biz Monday Starter: Audience

As a performer there are things that you can control. Like how you prepare for your role. Did you research your part well? Did you memorize the lines sufficiently? Are you comfortable with your blocking? And as a performer you find yourself focusing on the things you can control because there are so many things you can't. Perhaps the biggest thing we, as actor’s, can’t control is audience. Who they are, how are the going to perceive the performance? Will they like it, hate it? Audience is such an integral part of performing, so what happens when you do a play that presumes an audience has a similar background, a similar academic past, a similar affinity with the concepts touched upon in the piece? What happens when the audience doesn’t have those things? Is the play dead in the water? Should plays be watered down/should they be written above the audience? Should the audience even be a major factor in choosing works to perform? Should we as actors care? Any thoughts?


  1. I remember hearing a critic say that Shakespeare's most impressive feat was that he could entertain the masses with the "things of no literary value" to sell tickets, while at the same time creating phenomenal artistic pieces directed at only elites. That's harsh judgment of what constitutes art, but the principle remains relavent. Can you create a piece that gives one group one thing and another group something else? Obviously kids movies sneak in adult jokes these days- but maybe movies like the Matrix or Batman have found a way to create art and excite the masses with special effects (and I know you would caution that special effects can have plenty of artistic value). But what about the rest of our "shiny objects": beautiful actors, sex, action scenes, etc. All of these things are fine- but is it ok to say that the story must find a way to include them? Should we think more or less of the director that works in this "shakespearean way"? Are we giving the "artistic elite" to much credit and the "masses" to little credit when we think in this framework.

  2. That's a good point...multiple good ones. It's tough to say. I mean truly plays and movies are meant for audiences--for people to see. And I think that usually a correlation can be made between the broader the audience the more well received the work is. I don't know exactly what art is any more. The more I try to define it, the more the definition seems to elude me. But I can't deny that there does seem to be a certain artistic prowess and respect for the artist that can appeal to a wide audience. As far as, should "shiny objects" be included just to attract an audience, I am not sure. It's tough because again an audience is what is wanted...maybe in world where everything is becoming more homogenized (food, education, clothing, entertainment) it becomes harder to include levels that go above (and below) a perceived group knowledge. Maybe the "educated court" that existed in Shakespeare's time is actually getting smaller, so much so that they don't really impact audience like they used the push to speak to them feels useless and contrived. Anyway stream of consciousness thoughts. I enjoy your comments.