The focus of the last few chapters has largely been on the ways in which the practice of being an audience might be influenced by the practices of the stage. It is not merely from a production and its performance, however, that audiences derive their cues for their own ‘performances’ as spectators. Ideas about the nature of Shakespearean spectatorship circulate widely in culture more broadly, and audiences will inevitably arrive at a Shakespearean performance with certain preconceptions about what their role is likely to involve. They may be or may not be seasoned playgoers. Experiences at school may well have taught them to associate Shakespeare with authority, with difficulty, with the institution, with literature, or with English history; a different sort of education might have contested some of these constructions or provided alternative ones. Audience members who are frequent visitors to Shakespeare’s Globe are likely to have ideas about spectatorship which are very different from those who are more used to the West End, cinema, rock concerts, or live sporting events. Responses to a given production, then, will be strongly influenced by the extent to which it either confirms or challenges those expectations.
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