Impacting Theatre Audiences : Methods for Studying Change book cover
1st Edition

Impacting Theatre Audiences
Methods for Studying Change

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ISBN 9781032214139
March 2, 2022 Forthcoming by Routledge
256 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This edited collection explores methods for conducting critical empirical research examining the potential impacts of theatrical events on audience members.

Dani Snyder-Young and Matt Omasta present an overview of the burgeoning subfield of audience studies in theatre and performance studies, followed by an introduction to the wide range of ways scholars can study the experiences of spectators. Consisting of chapter length case studies, the book addresses methodologies for examining spectatorship, including qualitative, quantitative, historical/historiographic, arts-based, participatory, and mixed methods approaches.

This volume will be of great interest to theatre and performance studies scholars as well as industry professionals working in marketing, audience development and community engagement.

Table of Contents


CHAPTER ONE by Dani Snyder-Young & Matt Omasta

Contemporary Spectatorship Research

CHAPTER TWO by Matt Omasta & Dani Snyder-Young

Key Methodological Concepts in Spectatorship Research

CHAPTER THREE by Caroline Heim

Participant Observation in Practice and Techniques for Overcoming Researcher Insecurity: A Case Study at the Deutsches Theater

CHAPTER FOUR by Claire Syler

Prioritizing Black Experience, or the Inevitability of Educating White Audiences: A Discourse Analysis

CHAPTER FIVE by Johnny Saldaña

Interviewing Children about Theatre Performance

CHAPTER SIX by Kelsey Jacobsen

Hashtag Networks, "Live" Musicals, and the Social Media Spectator: Digital Theatre Audience Research Methods

CHAPTER SEVEN by Christopher Corbo

Drafting Harlem, Revising Melodrama: Archival Insights into Audience Expectation

CHAPTER EIGHT by Signy Lynch

The Gaze Turned Inward: A Reflexive Autoethnographic Approach to Theatre Research


CHAPTER NINE by Michelle Cowin Gibbs

The Stony Silence: Negotiating Empathy and Audience Expectations in Solo Autoethnographic Performance

CHAPTER TEN by Holly Maples

Touching Past Lives: The Limits of Evaluating Immersive Heritage Performance Audiences

CHAPTER ELEVEN by Celia Pearce

Playing Ethnography: Participant Engagement in Role/Play

CHAPTER TWELVE by Martine Kei Green-Rogers & Dani Snyder-Young

Public Facing Dramaturgy as Audience Research: An interview with Martine Kei Green-Rogers

CHAPTER THIRTEEN by Lisa Aikman & Jennifer Roberts-Smith

Theatre for Relationality: A Case Study in Restorative Pedagogy, Relational Design, and Audience Engagement

CHAPTER FOURTEEN by Jennica Nichols, George Belliveau, Susan M. Cox, Graham W. Lea, & Christopher Cook

Key Questions in Evaluating Audience Impact: A Mixed Methods Approach in Research-Based Theatre


(Ac)counting for Change: A Quantitative Approach to Recognizing and Contextualizing Shifts in Spectatorial Thinking

CHAPTER SIXTEEN by Monica Prendergast

Poetic Inquiry and/as Theatre Audience Research


Playful Research

APPENDIX by Matt Omasta & Dani Snyder-YoungMethodologies and Methods

List of contributors



List of contributors

Lisa Aikman is an Educational Developer at the University of Western Ontario. She holds a PhD in Theatre Studies from the University of Toronto's Centre from Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies.

George Belliveau is Professor of Theatre/Drama Education at the University of British Columbia, Canada.  He co-produced, directed and performed in Contact!Unload.  He has published six books including Contact!Unload: Military veterans, trauma, and research-based theatre (UBC Press, 2020) co-edited with Graham Lea.

Chris Cook is a Ph.D. student in Counselling Psychology at the University of British Columbia. Chris is also a registered clinical counsellor and a playwright, and their work explores mental health through inquiry and art. Chris's play Quick Bright Things was a for finalist for the 2020 Governor General's Literary Award for drama.

Chris Corbo is a PhD Candidate in Literatures in English at Rutgers University.

Susan Cox is Associate Professor in Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia. Her research focuses on the arts and health and ethical issues in arts-based methods.  She leads "Rock the Boat" a collaborative research-based theatre project addressing graduate supervisory relationships, inclusivity and wellbeing.

Michelle Cowin Gibbs is an interdisciplinary scholar and solo performance artist whose work is situated in autoethnographic performance, performativity, and critical identity studies. Recent solo performance work includes: They Don’t Really Care About Us: PO-lice, PoPos, Sandra, and Me, a performance movement exploration of the relationship among police, policing, and Black women as told through a reimagining of the last day of Sandra Bland’s life.

Martine Kei Green-Rogers (she/her) is the Interim Dean of the Division of Liberal Arts at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She is a freelance dramaturg and the Immediate Past President of the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas. 

Caroline Heim is Associate Professor of Theatre at Queensland University of Technology, Australia and author of Actors and Audiences: Conversations in the Electric Air (Routledge 2020) and Audience as Performer: The changing role of theatre audiences in the 21st Century (Routledge 2016).

Kelsey Jacobson is Assistant Professor in the Dan School of Drama and Music at Queen's University and a co-founding director of the Centre for Spectatorship and Audience Research.

Graham W. Lea is assistant professor of Theatre/Drama Education at the University of Manitoba. Research interests include research-based theatre, and theatre in health and education research. He is co-editor, with George Belliveau, of the books Research-Based Theatre: An Artistic Methodology (Intellect, 2016) and Contact!Unload: Military Veterans, Trauma, and Research-based Theatre (UBC Press, 2020)

Signy Lynch is soon to defend her SSHRC-funded dissertation at Toronto’s York University. She has published work in various journals and edited collections on subjects including intermedial performance, intercultural theatre, audience studies, and theatre criticism. She is co-editor of Canadian Theatre Review volume 186, Theatre after the Explosion (2021).

Holly Maples is the Director of Impact and Postgraduate Research at East 15 School of Acting, University of Essex. A theatre director, performer, educator and scholar, her performance practice focuses on dramatized immersive and sensorial experience techniques in the heritage industry. Maples was Drama lead the Paston Footprints project.  

Scott Mealey is an empirical researcher and consultant who supports educational and theatre organizations interested in how their work influences participation and sense-making. He is a founding co-director of the Centre for Spectatorship and Audience Research, and he currently leads multiple funded projects examining the impact of Zoom-based theatre. 

Jennica Nichols is an evaluator and arts-based researcher interested in patient-led chronic disease management and health service design. She is finishing her PhD at the University of British Columbia studying research-based theatre as a knowledge translation method. Jennica co-runs AND implementation, a consulting company using arts-based methods and meaningful measurement to close gaps in knowledge production.

Matt Omasta is Professor of Theatre Arts and Associate Dean of the Caine College of the Arts at Utah State University. His works include co-author/editorship of Qualitative Research: Analyzing Life (SAGE 2021), Playwriting and Young Audiences (Intellect 2017) and Play, Performance, and Identity (Routledge 2015).

Celia Pearce is Professor of Game Design at Northeastern University at Northeastern University, a game designer, author and curator, and co-founder of the Playable Theatre Project.

Dr. Monica Prendergast is Professor of Drama/Theatre Education at the University of Victoria, BC, Canada. Her books include Applied Theatre and Applied Drama (with Juliana Saxton) and two co-edited collections on poetic inquiry.

Matthew Reason is Professor of Theatre at York St John University, UK.

Jennifer Roberts-Smith is Professor and Chair of Dramatic Arts in the Marilyn I Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts at Brock University, and Managing Director of the qCollaborative ( Her research and creative practice focus on performance and emerging media, with an emphasis on history, pedagogy, and design for social justice

Stan Ruecker is the Anthony J. Petullo Professor in Design at the University of Illinois. He is currently exploring how design research helps us to understand our preferred futures, how it may necessitate a change to prototyping, and how it can lead us to create physical interfaces for tasks such as analyzing text, modeling time, and designing experience.

Johnny Saldaña is Professor Emeritus from Arizona State University’s School of Film, Dance, and Theatre. His research methods books on qualitative data analysis have been cited and referenced in more than 21,000 research studies conducted in over 135 countries.

Dani Snyder-Young is Assistant Professor of Theatre at Northeastern University, USA, and the author of Privileged Spectatorship: Theatrical Interventions in White Supremacy (Northwestern University Press, 2020) and Theatre of Good Intentions: Challenges and Hopes for Theatre and Social Change (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

Claire Syler is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Theater at the University of Missouri, USA, and co-edited Casting a Movement with Daniel Banks (Routledge, 2019).


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Dani Snyder-Young is Assistant Professor of Theatre at Northeastern University, USA, and the author of Privileged Spectatorship: Theatrical Interventions in White Supremacy (Northwestern University Press, 2020).

Matt Omasta is Professor of Theatre Arts and Associate Dean of the Caine College of the Arts at Utah State University.