There is a potentially bewildering multiplicity of angles from which one can approach the subject of theatre audiences. Some studies focus on the cues for audience response in the dramatic text; some on the ways in which theatre practice itself might shape spectators’ reactions. Others will record the impact of different audience responses upon the ways in which a production makes meaning. Those who are more interested in particular audiences might focus on the ways in which a sense of audience identity is formed, considering the social context of the event at which a given group of spectators has amassed. Some will analyse this group in depth, documenting their reactions, identifying discernible sub-groups, or tracing patterns of response. Others will direct their attention towards the ways in which such audiences are constructed in reviews or other retrospective characterisations. In the discussion of any given production, then, the word ‘audience’ might refer to a number of different identities.
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