Live Theatre Production: relationships between performers and audience

Live Theatre Production: relationships between performers and audience

Performer-Audience Relationship Dynamics

  • The relationship between performers and audience in a live theatre production is dynamic and reciprocal. Performers feed off the energy and response of the audience, and conversely, the audience is influenced by the performers.
  • The nature of the performer-audience relationship varies depending on the genre and style of the theatre. For example, in a traditional proscenium stage performance, the performers act as if the audience is not present, aided by the fourth-wall concept. In more modern and experimental theatre forms like immersive theatre, performers directly engage and interact with the audience.
  • Understanding the audience is crucial for performers. Each audience is unique and may react differently to the production. Performers must remain adaptive and responsive during live shows to create effective engagement.

Factors Influencing the Performer-Audience Relationship

  • Use of space is a key aspect in determining the relationship between the performer and audience. It includes considerations such as stage layout, the distance between performers and audience, and whether the performance makes use of multiple, mobile or in-the-round stages.
  • Different staging and theatrical conventions also influence the performer-audience relationship. An example is Brechtian theatre, known for breaking the fourth wall and directly acknowledging the audience’s presence. In contrast, naturalistic productions aim to create a ‘window’ into another world, keeping the audience as unbiased observers.
  • The energy and focus of the performer significantly influence the audience. Audiences are often receptive to the performer’s energy and enthusiasm. They are quickly aware of a lackluster performance, negatively affecting their experience.

Non-Verbal Communication and Supporting Elements

  • Communication between performers and audience isn’t restricted to dialogue. Tactics such as body language, facial expressions, positioning, and movement can convey meaning and evoke a response from the audience.
  • Costuming and makeup are also factors. They can illustrate a character’s personality, status, or emotions, influencing the audience’s perceptions and reactions.
  • Lighting and sound play a critical role in affecting the mood of performance and guiding the audience’s feelings and reactions. Dramatic lighting or sudden sound changes can elicit visceral responses, while softer, more ambient lighting and music might evoke a contemplative response.

Audience Etiquette

  • The concept of ‘audience etiquette’ shapes the relationship between performer and audience. It includes conventions such as applauding at the end of a performance, maintaining silence during dramatic moments, and showing respect for performers by not interrupting or leaving prematurely.