Playgoing and Participation



When a play becomes part of a theatrical event, anything that happens on stage will have meaning, give pleasure, or cause uncertainty according to how the audience receives it.1 In one way, this makes judging its effect easier because we can all be members of an audience and use our own experiences to elucidate what happens on any one occasion, but our experiences will differ and we have little means of holding on to passing impressions. In trying to understand a play’s effect on an audience, the best way to start is to stand back and observe other people’s behaviour as well as our own, and to start at the beginning.


Theatrical Event Ticket Price Direct Address Walk Away Theatre Company 
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  1. 2.
    See C. J. Sisson, The Boar’s Head Theatre; An Innyard Theatre of the Elizabethan Age, ed. Stanley Wells (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972), p. 37.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    See N. D. Shergold, A History of the Spanish Stage from the Medieval Times until the end of the Seventeenth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967), pp. 519–20.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    See Allardyce Nicoll, The Garrick Stage: Theatres and Audience in the Eighteenth Century, ed. Sybil Rosenfeld (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1980), pp. 97–8.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    See Laurence Irving, Henry Irving: The Actor and His World, by His Grandson (New York: Macmillan, 1951), pp. 248–9.Google Scholar
  5. 14.
    Charles M. Clode, The Early History of the Guild of Merchant Tailors (London: Harrison, 1888), p. 235.Google Scholar
  6. 15.
    Tony Coult and Baz Kershaw (eds), Engineers of the Imagination: The Welfare State Handbook (London: Methuen, 1983), pp. 28–9, 34–6.Google Scholar
  7. 16.
    John McGrath, A Good Night Out: Popular Theatre–Audience, Class, and Form (London: Eyre Methuen, 1981), pp. 116 and 6–7.Google Scholar

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© John Russell Brown 2002

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