© 2014

Young Audiences, Theatre and the Cultural Conversation

  • John O'Toole
  • Ricci-Jane Adams
  • Michael Anderson
  • Bruce Burton
  • Robyn Ewing


  • Offers rare insights on how adolescent and post-adolescent young audiences experience and appreciate the theatre

  • Results from a six year study involving three Australian states and thirteen major performing arts companies

  • A thorough investigation into the extent to which young audiences are part of our society's cultural conversation


Part of the Landscapes: the Arts, Aesthetics, and Education book series (LAAE, volume 12)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. John O’Toole
    Pages 1-15
  3. Michael Anderson, Josephine Fleming
    Pages 17-31
  4. Christine Sinclair
    Pages 33-47
  5. Madonna Stinson
    Pages 49-63
  6. Kate Donelan, Richard Sallis
    Pages 65-82
  7. Robyn Ewing, Josephine Fleming, Bruce Burton, Madonna Stinson
    Pages 83-97
  8. Josephine Fleming, Robyn Ewing, John Hughes
    Pages 99-114
  9. Penny Bundy
    Pages 115-127
  10. Christine Sinclair, Ricci-Jane Adams
    Pages 129-144
  11. Bruce Burton, Penny Bundy, Robyn Ewing
    Pages 145-158
  12. Angela O’Brien
    Pages 159-176
  13. Christine Sinclair, Ricci-Jane Adams, John O’Toole
    Pages 177-198
  14. Back Matter
    Pages 199-201

About this book


This volume offers rare insights into the connection between young audiences and the performing arts. Based on studies of adolescent and post-adolescent audiences, ages 14 to 25, the book examines to what extent they are part of our society’s cultural conversation. It studies how these young people read and understand theatrical performance. It looks at what the educational components in their theatre literacy are, and what they make of the whole social event of theatre. It studies their views on the relationship between what they themselves decide and what others decide for them. The book uses qualitative and quantitative data collected in a six-year study carried out in the three largest Australian States, thirteen major performing arts companies, including the Sydney Opera House, three state theatre companies and three funding organisations. The book’s perspectives are derived from world-wide literature and company practices and its significance and ramifications are international.

The book is written to be engaging and accessible to theatre professionals and lay readers interested in theatre, as well as scholars and researchers.


adolescents and theatre arts and education civic theatre semiotics of performance spaces theatre literacy theatrical education young audiences and performing arts young audiences from the educator's perspective young theatregoers youth and theatre

Editors and affiliations

  • John O'Toole
    • 1
  • Ricci-Jane Adams
    • 2
  • Michael Anderson
    • 3
  • Bruce Burton
    • 4
  • Robyn Ewing
    • 5
  1. 1.Melbourne Graduate School of EducationThe University of MelbourneSouth BrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Melbourne Graduate School of EducationThe University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Faculty of Education and Social WorkThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  4. 4.School of Education and Professional StudiesGriffith UniversityQueenslandAustralia
  5. 5.Faculty of Education and Social WorkThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Young Audiences, Theatre and the Cultural Conversation
  • Editors John O'Toole
    Ricci-Jane Adams
    Michael Anderson
    Bruce Burton
    Robyn Ewing
  • Series Title Landscapes: the Arts, Aesthetics, and Education
  • Series Abbreviated Title Landscapes: Arts, Aesthetics
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2014
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Humanities, Social Sciences and Law Education (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-94-007-7608-1
  • Softcover ISBN 978-94-017-7943-2
  • eBook ISBN 978-94-007-7609-8
  • Series ISSN 1573-4528
  • Series E-ISSN 2214-0069
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XVII, 201
  • Number of Illustrations 48 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Creativity and Arts Education
    Performing Arts
    Early Childhood Education
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“This extraordinary book thoroughly explains why young people (ages 14-25+) do and do not attend theatre into adulthood by delineating how three inter-linked factors (literacy, confidence, and etiquette) influence their decisions. Given that theatre happens inside spectators’ minds, the authors balance the theatre equation by focusing upon young spectators and thereby dispel numerous beliefs held by theatre artists and educators. Each clearly written chapter engages readers with astute insights and compelling examples of pertinent responses from young people, teachers, and theatre professionals. To stem the tide of decreasing theatre attendance, this highly useful book offers pragmatic strategies for artistic, educational, and marketing directors, as well as national theatre organizations and arts councils around the world. I have no doubt that its brilliantly conceived research, conducted across multiple contexts in Australia, will make a significant and original contribution to the profession of theatre on an international scale.” Jeanne Klein, University of Kansas, USA

“Young Audiences, Theatre and the Cultural Conversation is a compelling and comprehensive study on attitudes and habits of youth theatre audiences by leading international scholars in the field. This benchmark study offers unique insights by and for theatre makers and administrators, theatre educators and researchers, schools, parents, teachers, students, audience members of all ages.

A key strength within the book centers on the emphasis of the participant voices, particularly the voices of the youth.  Youth voices, along with those of teachers and theatre artists, position the extensive field research front and center.” George Belliveau, The University of British Columbia, Canada