Critical Paper: Active audiences in a mediatised culture

Critical Paper: MA Theatre Design, 2015

Is an increasingly mediatised culture encouraging a more active audience in contemporary theatre?

The arts are embedded in our social and cultural make-up and as a result will always be influenced by social change and development.We are living in what Auslander (1997) termed ‘a mediatized culture’ that is ‘a culture dominated by mass media’ and digitisation[1]. He considered the effects this has on our concept and appreciation of the live event including theatre, sport and music. For ‘Despite their recent arrival, film and television and the internet are now part of us, and our cultural habituation to them has deeply affected the way we perceive the world and how we behave in live performance.’ (Kennedy, 2009 p.144) This critical paper seeks to explore how developments in our culture, towards a more digital and therefore remote contact culture, may be affecting the audience performer relationship in theatre. With an increasing emphasis on what makes the live event special, comes an increasing culture for a more active audience experience.That is an audience, which might be physically active in a space, mentally active in an issue or be participating in the creation or presentation of a performance. Importantly this does not explore the use of media within theatre rather the possible links between a changing social culture and a move towards a more social theatre as a result of increased digitalisation.

Firstly it important to determine what the term theatre means, for in our contemporary culture the wealth of performance styles and events that might think to call themselves theatre are immense. In his book The Empty Space, Peter Brooke seeks to explain this complex area; opening with the lines ‘I can take any empty space and call it a bare stage. A man walks across this empty space whilst someone else is watching him, and this is all that is needed for an act of theatre to be engaged’ (Brooke, 1968, p.9) This is a very overarching description for what is ‘a messy image covered by one all-purpose word’ (Brooke, 1968, p.9) but it does provide the underpinning of what we mean by theatre, simply a live performance, anywhere, with an audience. For the most part this basic concept is all that is needed for the purpose of this debate, but it is interesting to briefly note how Brooke further describes the term theatre, breaking it into four distinct categories ‘Deadly Theatre, a Holy Theatre, a Rough Theatre and an Immediate Theatre.’ (Brooke, 1968, p.9) This concept seeks to establish the wealth of theatre, including commercial, live art, social and political strands but importantly demonstrates how the boundaries of definition and quality do not lie in genres, writers or buildings but instead there are many cross overs between.

Our ever-increasing access to information and media on the Internet and through social media has opened up our social options and ideas like never before. We no longer choose between a handful of terrestrial channels on the TV, instead our watching preferences are tailor made. We can access music from any artist, communicate with people around the world and compete in communal on-line gaming. This on-line access and interaction is, for most people not replacing our need for real social interaction, for ‘we are social animals. Because evolution has equipped our species with more sensitivity to the needs and emotions of others than is evident in other mammals, we carry these cognitive capabilities with us into theatrical viewing’ (McConachie 2008, p.65) but ‘No one today disputes that the Internet is likely to have a significant impact on social life’ (Bargh and McKenna, 2004, p.3). We are changing how we communicate, how we socialise, how we work and how we play and this inevitably affects our theatre.

It could be argued that an increase in our access to media simply builds greater competition for audience attention.Our social time has become stretched like never before and theatre needs to respond to changing audience requirements and expectations.‘Theatre, an institution at the heart of world cultures for millennia, now confronts unprecedented challenges in a rapidly evolving society… A youthful generation raised amid a digital culture may prove harder to lure to a live theatrical performance; in the 2009-10 season, the average Broadway theatregoer was 48 years old.’ (Lambert 2012) When this point is raised with even the most avid young theatre goer, many suggest they risk their social time on the theatre, paying high ticket prices, rushing from work to make a 7pm show and then sitting in darkness passively watching a play, isolated from their peers, only to rush off again at the end to make the tube home.This is expressed quite blatantly in the statement ‘Theatre, of course, is rubbish. It happens in the evenings, when there are more exciting things to do, and it does go on a bit.’ (Ridout, 2007) This of course is trying to be subversive but clearly highlights some of the negative opinions around traditional style theatre events.Similarly the article title ‘I prefer my theatre highbrow, but I can’t stay awake’ (Maher, 2015) is representative of the current struggle between the romanticised love of traditional theatre and the need for a more actively engaged audience to satisfy contemporary appetites. It is also a possible example of a ‘deadly spectator’ that is, someone ‘who for special reasons enjoys a lack of intensity and even lack of entertainment’ (Brooke, 1968, p.10) and surely most theatre makers should want to avoid this false accolade and seek a genuinely engaged rather than habitual audience. Regardless this pattern needs addressing and it is clear that at all levels the arts have to respond if they are to retain and grow audiences.On a practical and cynical basis this is about financial survival, but the outcomes and responses to this issue are considerably more interesting and in many cases resulting in a theatre which is forced to forge a stronger relationship with its audience.

In our fast paced culture driven by mass media and hampered by funding cuts, it is a genuine struggle for any artist or creative organisation to secure the sufficient audiences and funds it needs to maintain high quality work and market it effectively to a media saturated audience. For ‘in no other form of society in history has there been such a concentration of images, such a density of visual messages’ (Berger, 1972, p.129) or such a wealth of entertainment choices. The solution appears to be twofold; add greater social worth, community involvement and public benefit to increase and justify public funds, and on the other hand appeal to a social entertainments culture that is more similar in style to popular events in clubs/bars/gigs, as a way to widen the audience, the social appeal and the resulting commercial funds. The Tate Britain for example regularly produces ‘Late at Tate’ a highly social evening of events inspired by their collections and featuring workshops, talks, DJ’s and live performance, to attract and engage, particularly younger audiences in a more social experience of a gallery. Similarly they increase active community participation through an outreach program, which aims to engage schools, families and community areas.This is becoming a standard model of operation and an active audience, keen to participate not just spectate at an event, is an increasingly natural expectation, both for large organisations and within grass roots practice. How is this increasingly active audience affecting the work we create in the theatre[2], is active participation and greater involvement in the live event an antidote to a digital age[3] and are we as artists developing a stronger relationship with our audience through this participation model?

In 1998 Benedict Nightingale published a book ‘The Future of Theatre’ where he recognised key links between developments in theatre practice and developments in broader social culture.Writing in a time when mass media was well established and the growing power of the Internet and mass adoption of social media were in their infancy; fear for the survival of the live theatre might have been the expected stance.However, Nightingale took a much more positive stance stating, ‘my main reason for optimism is not the talent the theatre can boast nor the occasional genius it may produce.It is rather that the theatre will soon be wanted, needed, as never before.’ (Nightingale, 1998, p.5) This ‘need’ is an interesting concept and links to the idea that as we engage with our world in increasing scale through technology it is also with an increasing remoteness.Therefore we will, as social beings, seek this contact elsewhere, live events may fill this communal ‘need’. This is summarised effectively by Nightingale, ‘however vast the impact of new technology on the world’s leisure patterns, it is still good news for the live theatre…Call it human contact, risk or fallibility.It is what makes theatre, theatre.It is also what makes theatre necessary… People yearn to be active and (at times) communal, not passive and desolately surfing dreamland. However brilliantly they let us fake participation, the new media prohibit the real thing.’ (Nightingale, 1998, p.5). It is inevitable that with cultural and social developments, the theatre will respond accordingly, therefore as the live in theatre becomes increasingly the defining feature, this aspect is likely to be given more weight.An extension of ‘liveness’ (Auslander, 1997) and the importance of a social experience may naturally equate to an increase in audience participation, from theatre in more flexible social spaces, to an increasingly physically active and mentally engaged audience. Theatre must compete effectively for its audiences and it is only through the exploitation of what makes it unique, it will flourish.

Brecht expressed his own concerns about audience relationships; ‘a theatre which makes no contact with the public is a nonsense… All those establishments with their excellent heating systems, their pretty lighting, their appetite for large sums of money, their imposing exteriors, together with the entire business that goes on inside them; all this doesn't contain five pennyworth of fun... There is no 'sport' (Willett, 1964, p.7) ‘Sport’ implies action, it implies competition and it implies a certain style of audience which has an ‘obvious distinction to the restrained behaviour at films and bourgeois theatres, sports fans from the start were encouraged to display emotions, approbation and partisanship in an open and free-playing manner.’ (Kennedy, 2009, p.156). How we behave as an audience at a sporting event is greatly different to how we currently behave at most performance ones and yet that was not always the case.‘ Greek theatre, clearly illustrates a direct relationship to the society it addresses and, at every level, includes the audience as active participant… Medieval and sixteenth-century audiences did not enjoy the power of the Greek audiences, but nevertheless still functioned in an active role.There was flexibility in the relationship between stage and audience worlds, which afforded, in different ways, the participation of those audiences as actors in the drama.’ (Bennet, 1997, p.3) It was from the seventeenth century when theatres became more private affairs that audiences changed and ‘in terms of English theatre, audiences became increasingly passive and increasingly bourgeois’ (Bennet, 1997, p.3) It appears now that with ever greater choices in styles of theatre we can enjoy; from the spectacular visual feasts of the West End musical to the underground live art event in a disused warehouse, we have a greater variety of audience relationship styles to engage with. It would be incorrect to imply ‘that conventional[4] audience-performer relationships are bankrupt, or that participatory performance has the special capacity to liberate audiences’ (White, 2013, p.2) However it is interesting to explore new trends and begin to understand why audience opportunities to interact might appear to be blossoming.

There are many different forms of theatre, which involve or encourage an active audience, usually through aspects of participation in the creation or presentation of a live event.The terms used to describe these forms often merge, become entangled or misinterpreted, clearly demonstrated in this statement ‘immersive theatre, interactive theatre, site-specific theatre; call it whatever the hell you like, but London is bursting with plays and performances that defy stuffy conventions to offer you an experience that’s more like a real life adventure than an evening at the theatre.’ (Timeout, 2015) Even the word participate can be confusing and is often used purely to refer to community-based theatre or theatre for children, but this limits the term which should simply imply all work where artists have ‘sought to create situations and events that invite spectators to become active participants, in dialogue both with their context and with each other’ (Bishop, 2006) That is, the work encourages an active audience who can feel a greater connection to the work by undertaking some practical part in its creation and/or presentation. This transformation from spectator to participant is an important development and explored in Jacques Rancière’s theory of The Emancipated Spectator, which calls for ‘a theatre without spectators, where those in attendance learn from as opposed to being seduced by images where they become active participants as opposed to passive voyeurs. (Rancière, 2009, p.3)

A participation model ‘has always been important in applied and social theatre, where the aim to engage audience members in social activism and personal development has often been achieved through direct involvement in drama’ (White, 2013) This includes Theatre in Education[5], where active involvement can enable young people to engage with a topic at a deeper level, than a passive presentation might otherwise achieve.They are encouraged to focus, to think for themselves, practice empathy, physically and verbally engage with their peers and should therefore ‘remember the event in the same cognitive manner that we process episodes in our lives’ in contrast to presentation from stage which may ‘go by in a bit of a blur, leaving us with only general impressions of the experience.’ (Hill and Paris, 2014, p.16)This practice is in line with current teaching trends that call for learning in the classroom to be active rather than passive leading to deeper learning[6]. By active they refer to obvious practical activities such as question and answer, problem-solving tasks and group discussion but also the independent piecing together of ideas instead of simply being given an answer. ‘In the deep approach, the intention to extract meaning produces active learning processes that involve relating ideas and looking for patterns and principles’ (Entwistle, 2000, p.3) This is an invaluable approach which is similarly being applied to theatre in order to achieve a more actively engaged audience, backed by practical and scientific study, which increases our understanding of both how and why we should adopt certain approaches.

Immersive Theatre is a term which ‘designates audience experiences of proximity, flexibility and interaction… an audience inhabits and moves through the space of a performance rather sitting outside it, much as we might move through water rather than floating on top of it. (White, 2013, p.170) The company whose work is generally thought of as defining this genre is Punchdrunk, they describe their work as ‘transformative productions that focus as much on the audience and the performance space as on the performers and narrative. Inspired designers occupy deserted buildings and apply a cinematic level of detail to immerse the audience in the world of the show’ (Punchdrunk, 2013). They clearly place importance on audience, giving them ‘a unique theatrical experience where the lines between space, performer and spectator are constantly shifting.’ (Punchdrunk, 2013) The word ‘experience’ is key and defines this as an active event, which is proving massively popular, with their most recent show ‘The Drowned Man’ playing for up to 600 people per night. Everyone could take a different route through, experiencing different scenes, characters and environments in completely different orders. This sparks conversation between audiences, and the theatre experience becomes active both within and beyond the event. ‘I cannot recommend it too highly – your own visit will doubtless be completely different from mine.’ (Spencer, 2013) This is an example of a successful and increasingly commercial form of theatre, which is transforming how we experience theatre within popular culture.

Punchdrunk’s work takes place in non-conventional theatre spaces but is not purely site-specific because although the design and practical layout is clearly determined by the location, it is rare that the specific building inspires the narrative. A better example of site-specific is the work of Geraldine Pilgrim, who ‘specialises in creating installations and performances in unusual buildings and landscapes… (Where) she responds to the architecture of the site for inspiration and narrative to reveal the memories and atmospheres that have built up over the years.’ (Pilgrim, 2015) Her work is often collaborative with local people and artists adding a level of participation in the creation of the work and engaging the wider community in meaningful buildings and relevant history. The nature of Pilgrim’s settings, demand a mobile audience for the practical function of the performance, which can also class them as promenade, a genre ‘with no formal stage, and the audience and actors occupying the same space… and explores what the theatrical experience can entail for an audience.’ (Gouk, 2012) One of promenades most dynamic versions is Gorilla Theatre[7] a ‘theatre of urgency and connections.’ (Denton, 2002, p.xv) The audience participation and active movement is essential in this high-energy theatre, often moving rapidly through a park or urban space.The ‘goal in gorilla theatre is the same as in any theatre in that you want to transport the audience into the world of the show’ (Sanderson. 2003, p.12) and using the ‘outdoor environment means enhancement and reframing the mundane to transform it into the magical.’ (Sanderson, 2003, P.129) This style of theatre experience becomes an adventure, a journey of discovery and with minimal sets and props is a vital use of ones own imagination. An active audience is created where they ‘share the passion and joy and spectacular heightened emotion that reminds us why the heck theatre is so vital and necessary.’ (Denton, 2002. p.xiii) This desire to be physically active in our theatre again may be linked to our changing daily habits as a result of digitisation. As we spend an increasing amount of time sat, stationary in front of a computer or digital devise, particularly in the workplace, so we must seek more practical activity in our social life. This is most obviously seen in the massive increase in gym membership and the popularity of sports clubs and activities but perhaps there is a similarly growing trend in theatre.

Many active theatre styles aim ‘to put us inside the drama; to make us active (not interactive) participants in the yarn that's being spun.' (Denton, 2002, p.xv) This is an important distinction and one that is commonly misinterpreted.Being physically active moving around a space, immersed in visual feasts and sensory smells or being encouraged to actively and mentally piece together a narrative or engage with a political issue does not necessarily make something interactive. For something to be classed as truly interactive the audience must have the ability to influence and change the action to some extent. The actors must be able to freely respond, taking risks into the unknown while maintaining a performance. This is a difficult balance to achieve and requires a certain amount of risk, confidence and trust in the audience as a more equal participant. As a result in most cases ‘the relationship is one in which the artist still holds most of the power, and the element of choice for the audience is largely illusory.’ (Gardner, 2012) To be a performance there must be certain rules and structures of presentation and yet offering elements of chance to an audience can provide a valuable sense of ownership. The audience become players in the act; they are excited when an idea of theirs is taken forward and so invest more energy and believability in the performance. This requires improvisation and quick reactions but rewards the performer by sending them ‘in new and exciting directions, (which) keeps the work relevant and stops us from becoming stale in our performances.’ Gunn (2015) Our interest in a deeper level of interactivity is easily paralleled with developments in gaming, where our physical actions on systems such as the Wii have more direct consequences. We are no longer satisfied by a passive or preprogramed activity but seek increasing levels of cause and effect.

Moving ever closer in proximity 1:1 theatre, offers an intimate and personally unique performance. There may also be parallels ‘with these close encounters in live performance and the close-up in film.’ (Hill and Paris, 2014, p.15) We have become accustomed to the extreme close-up in film, experiencing intimate events at ever-closer proximity.This could be influencing our desire or at least acceptance of a greater intimacy in theatre and the intimate live event is so much more potent than that of the recorded. For we ‘experience intimate performance in a cognitive manner that is much closer to a lived experience’ (Sierz, 2000, p.17) For example ‘nudity onstage is more powerful than nudity in films, paintings or sculpture for the simple reason that a real person is actually present.’ (Sierz, 2000, p.8) An interesting example is ‘The Passenger’ by Olwen Davies, which takes participants on a practical car journey. The title itself places the single audience member at the very heart of the work; they become an equal part of the action. The piece questions notions of trust, heightened day-to day acts and proximity.‘It is a very intimate performance… All of the active moments reminded audience members to be present. It was to make them part of the story but also to make them feel they were writing the story to some extent as they had choices.’ Davies (2015)

This style of 1:1 performance begins to cross the boundaries between theatre and live Art[8] art practise. The Live Art Development Agency (2015)[9] says ‘Live Art offers immersive experiences, often disrupting distinctions between spectator and participant. Live Art asks us what it means to be here, now. In the simultaneity and interactivity of a media saturated society’. This interestingly comments on the relationship between our current relationship to media and our relationship to performance, suggesting that the ‘live’ offers more ‘immediacy and reality’ that is something physical in the sense of real people, something active in contrast to passive and something that happens here and now. This includes early experimental work such as Yoko Ono’s famous ‘Cut’ piece which invited audience members to gradually cut sections of her clothing. This ‘reverses the conventional performer audience relationship… it is the performer who is the passive spectator and the audience who perform’ (Sofaer, 2009, p.54). This piece opens up conversation around the relationship of performer and audience, proximity, voyeurism and codes of conduct. Highly intimate work may be considered shocking, but these ‘performances happen in the disputed ground where highly charged, deeply taboo aspects of our embodies affectivities are activated in controlled situations of an art event’ (Kuburovic, 2012, p.44) This generates possible links between our online lives and what we now bring into our theatre viewing patterns. ‘If our contemporary coexistence between real and simulated, fantasy and fact, how is that affecting our values? In a situation of increasingly blurred lines between reality and simulation, issues of responsibility and morality arise.Values and behaviours that may be acceptable in the digital realm may not be workable in the real but may leak across that thinning membrane’ (Warr, 2012, p.23) This may act as a warning about increasingly blurred lines of acceptable behaviour between the real and the digital. Within the unreality of any participatory performance scenario, the audience may have the opportunity to do what they could or would not do in real life.

When linking an increasing digitised culture with a more popular acceptance of active theatre audiences, the notion of ‘unique’ is crucial.‘We are obsessed by the idea of an authentic original but are nevertheless faced with a culture that is synthesized and manufactured through the mass media’ (Sofaer, 2009, p.51) As more of our information becomes digital, that is reduced to a series of 0 and 1’s which can be reproduced perfectly time and time again, we may begin to place greater value on aspects of our lives which are unique, including theatre.This can also be seen on a much larger scale ‘In a sociocultural context, digital technologies have been regarded as the epitome of globalization forces—not only driving and deepening the process of globalization itself but also spreading its effects.’ (Burri, 2010) For if globally all our high streets begin to look the same and we have equal access through the Internet to the same wealth of knowledge and information how do we express our unique identity. We must seek the unique event, experience and object, coming back to our increasing ‘need’ for art.

In demonstrating our identity through the unique live experience it has become increasingly fashionable to advertise that attendance on social media and in general to document many aspects of our lives. This creates a new dynamic, for in the past we might only document through private family photo albums and share with close friends over a cup of tea, now ‘as the internet has grown in popularity, so has the pressure. The need to share anything and everything hoping that there will be someone out there who feels the same as you’ Lilly (2015). This pressure to be more public, to share things that are more interesting, to be seen as a more interesting person may be seen as a stressful threat to our well being, but arguably might also be helping us to expand our outlook and try new things. This trend increases the appeal for a more unique theatre experience, as it provides an opportunity to share[10] something enthusing. This includes the audience, the theatre and the individual performer as media advertises and therefore offers opportunities for greater communication between these parties.

However this social benefit in the context of entertainment does not really show the society benefits in regards to community that theatre can achieve when harnessing an active audience. Artists have historically played the role in the community ‘as truth-tellers and agents of change’ (Neal, 2015) raising awareness of injustice and issues within society.Their social comment has the ability to be engaging, presented creatively and interpreted in metaphorical ways. Theatre can play a key role in social comment because arguably, as a live event, it can yield more power than a passive image or text. The book Theatre and the Visual questions ‘why are performed images seemingly more prone to shocking or upsetting audiences than the spoken word?’ (Johnson, 2012, p.1-2) In response we might discuss that the live event engages an audience in a unique encounter, more profound for including both a physical and social presence; that the live presence of audience and performer generates an important relationship and an ability to deeply engage a spectator.Indeed we are saturated by visual images in society through 24hour news and social media and therefore must seek a deeper experience.In particular a quick look at issue based campaign advertising including animal cruelty, domestic abuse and smoking, shows how these campaigns have had to become more elaborate, more inventive and yet visual advertising as a medium struggles to grab real attention. Indeed ‘We are now so accustomed to being addressed by these images that we scarcely notice their total impact’ (Berger, 1972, p.130). Over saturation, which streams through our social media feeds, has caused a serious desensitising effect, we so regularly encounter troubling images that over consumption has resulted in a serious loss of influence. Perhaps in the ‘live’ we can still be shocked, compelled and engaged for ‘performance art abounds with powerful images. Attracted to the production of compelling and difficult images in performance, artist often suggest that seeking pleasure or pain in an image can open onto political effects. (Johnson, 2012, pp.69-70) We therefore feel more deeply at a live event, compelled by real people performing in front of us and the closer the audience to the action the more likely they are to be affected and unable to ignore issues presented before them for ‘intimate performance is multi-sensory in a way that real life generally is and performing in a (traditional) theatre generally isn’t’ (Sierz, 2000, p.17) and observing visually and remotely certainly isn’t.

The debate on the audience relationship in theatre is possibly as old as theatre itself and debated in earnest by many key theatre writers and critics.However, despite the exciting range and clear rise in more active performance styles it remains that for many ‘there are few things in the theatre that are more despised than audience participation.The prospect of audience participation makes people fearful; the use of audience participation makes people embarrassed, not only for themselves but for the theatre makers who choose to inflict it on their audiences.’ White (2013, p.1)It is clear that this is not a rapid change, nor will or should all theatre styles conform.Increasingly we acknowledge the broad range of theatre styles on the market and the varying parts an audience might play within them, ‘When we attend a contemporary performance, part of our expectation must now necessarily include a consideration of how we, as audience members, will form part of the work.’ (Sofaer, 2009, p.67) Yet there does appear to be an increasing appetite for a more active theatre, which may or may not be directly linked to our changing wider culture influenced by mediatisation. Proving a direct link in a rise in the popularity of a more active audience relationship, to changes in our social habits through the rise of digital media is highly problematic. There are links and trends that suggest that theatre has the potential to fill certain gaps where the digital may fail.That is, providing the basics of what makes something ‘live’: the communal event, the live performer and the unique one off experience.In this scenario it might be appropriate to conclude that ‘contemporary culture is marked by the emancipation of the spectator and the transformation of the audience from passive recipient to active participant.’ (Sofaer, 2009, p.7) Young audiences in particular appear to ‘want to be in the presence of others, to socialize; they need that release—which theater can provide, like the mosh pit of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, or the festivals of fifth-century Athens.’ Lambert (2012) This reminds us that everything is circular; ideas of participation, of building theatre around a social event and engaging in a communal experience are not new. Technology will continue to develop and growing computer reliance will inevitably effect and challenge our social patterns but ‘The hunger for live storytelling, for the shared experience of actor and audience, may even increase, if and when people tire of the edited, buffed, packaged perfection of television and film products.’ (Lambert, 2012)


  • AUSLANDER, P. 1999. Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture. London: Routledge
  • BARGH, J. A. and McKENNA, K. Y. A. 2004. The Internet and Social Life. New York: Annual Reviews
  • BERGER, J. 1972. Ways of Seeing. Great Britain: British Broadcasting Corporation and Penguin Books Ltd
  • BURRI, M. 2010. Digital Technologies and Traditional Cultural Expressions: A Positive Look at a Difficult Relationship. International Journal of Cultural Property: USA
  • BROOKE, P. 1968. The Empty Space. New York: Touchstone
  • DAVIES. O. 2015 Font Festival Review
  • DENTON, M 2002 in SANDERSON, S. 2003. Gorilla Theatre: a practical guide to performing the new outdoor theatre anytime, anywhere. London: Routledge
  • JOHNSON, D. 2012. Theatre & the Visual, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan
  • KENNEDY, D. 2009 The Spectator and The Spectacle: The Audience in Modernity and Post-Modernity. Cambridge University Press
  • KUBUROVIC, B. 2012 Collapsing Alibis: Intimacy and the Ethics of Wit(h)nessing. In: Intimacy Across Visceral and Digital Performance. CHATZICHRISTODOULOU, M and Zerihan, R eds.Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.39-50
  • MAHER. K. 2015. ‘I prefer my Theatre highbrow, but I can’t stay awake’ The Times Accessed 12/07/15
  • McCONACHIE.B. 2008 A Cognitive Approach to Spectating in the Theatre. New York: Palgrave Macmillan
  • NEAL, L. 2015 Playing for Time: making art as if the world mattered.London: Oberon Books
  • NIGHTINGALE, B.1998. Predictions: The Future of Theatre. London: Phoenix
  • SANDERSON, C. 2003. Gorilla Theater: A Practical Guide to Performing the New Outdoor Theater Anytime, Anywhere. London:Routledge
  • SOFAER. J. 2009 The Many Headed Monster. London: Live Art Development Agency.


  • AUSLANDER, P. 1999. Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture. London: Routledge
  • BARGH, J. A. and McKENNA, K. Y. A. 2004. The Internet and Social Life. New York: Annual Reviews
  • BENNETT. S. 1997.Theatre Audiences. 2nd Ed. London: Routledge
  • BENYON, D. and IMAZ, M.2008 Growing up in a digital age. MIT Press
  • BERGER, J. 1972. Ways of Seeing. Great Britain: British Broadcasting Corporation and Penguin Books Ltd
  • BRECHT, S. 1988. The Bread and Puppet Theatre Vol 1.London: Methuen Drama
  • BROOKE, P. 1968. The Empty Space. New York: Touchstone
  • BURRI, M. 2010. Digital Technologies and Traditional Cultural Expressions: A Positive Look at a Difficult Relationship. International Journal of Cultural Property: USA
  • COHEN-CRUZ, J & SCHUTZMAN, M (Eds) (1994) Playing Boal Theatre, Therapy, Activism. London: Routledge
  • BURNETT, K. 2015. Make/believe: UK Design for Performance 2011-015. UK: Society of British Theatre Designers
  • CHATZICHRISTODOULOU, M and ZERIHAN, R eds. 2012. Intimacy Across Visceral and Digital Performance. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan
  • FRESHWATER, H. 2009. Theatre & Audience. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan
  • GOLDBERG, R.L. 1988. Performance Art: From Futurism to the present. Singapore: World of Art series.
  • GORDON. M 2010. Theatre and The Mind. London: Oberon
  • JACKSON. A. 2006. The Aesthetics of the Oppressed, Augusto Boal. Oxon: Routledge
  • JOHNSON, D. 2012. Theatre & the Visual, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan

KELLEHER, J. 2009. Theatre & Politics, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan

  • KENNEDY, D. 2009. The Spectator and The Spectacle: The Audience in Modernity and Post-Modernity. Cambridge University Press
  • KERSHAW, B. 1999. The Radical in Performance, between Brecht and Baudrillard. London: Routledge
  • KUPPERS, P. 2007. Community Performance: An Introduction.London: Routledge
  • LANDY, R.J. and MONTGOMERY, D.T. 2012. Theatre for Change. Education, Social Action and Therapy. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan
  • MACKINTOSH, I. 1993. Architecture, Actor and Audience. London: Routledge
  • McCONACHIE.B. 2008 A Cognitive Approach to Spectating in the Theatre. New York: Palgrave Macmillan
  • NEAL, L. 2015. Playing for Time: making art as if the world mattered.London: Oberon Books
  • NIGHTINGALE, B.1998. Predictions: The Future of Theatre. London: Phoenix
  • PEARSON, M. 2010. Site-Specific Performance. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan
  • RANCIERE. J. 2009. The Emancipated Spectator. London: Verso
  • RIDOUT. N. 2009. Theatre & Ethics. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan
  • SANDERSON. C.C (2003) Gorilla Theatre: a practical guide to performing the new outdoor theatre anytime, anywhere. London: Routledge
  • SAVRAN, D. 1986. Breaking The Rules The Wooster Group. New York: Theatre Communicate Group.
  • SIERZ. A. 2000. In-Yer-Face Theatre, British Drama Today. London: Faber and Faber
  • SOFAER. J. 2009 The Many Headed Monster. London: Live Art Development Agency.
  • TUSHINGHAM. D. 1994 LIVE:Food for The Soul, A new generation of British Theatre Makers. Great Britain: Methuen
  • VERGINE, L. 2000. Body Art and Performance: The Body as Language. Milan: Skira
  • WHITE. G. 2013 Audience Participation in Theatre: Aesthetics of the Invitation. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan
  • WILLETT. J. ed. 1964 Brecht on Theatre, The Development of an Aesthetic. London: Methuen Drama


Live Events

  • CROFT. G. 2015. Participatory Theatre: The Saviour of Regional Theatre? Debate. Nottingham Playhouse. Nottingham
  • DAVIES. O. 2015. The Passenger. Font Festival. Rough Trade. Nottingham
  • EARLE. E dir.2015. Alice’s Adventures Underground.Les Petits. Performance. The Vaults: London
  • PUNCHDRUNK. 2014. The Drowned Man. Temple Studios. London: National Theatre
  • TATE. 2015 Late at Tate. Tate Britain. London: Tate
  • O’REILLY, K. 2005. Untitled Action. The National Review of Live Art. The Arches, Glasgow.
  • SHAIRP, A. 2014. The Solotoria in Make/Believe: UK Design for Performance 2011-015. Exhibition. BURNETT. K ed. UK: The Society of British Theatre Designers


  • OLIVER, D. 2015 Interview with Nicholson. A. 01/07/2015, London
  • DAVIES, O. GARTON, R. GUNN, S. PARKIN, D.2015 Interview with Nicholson. A. On Interactive Theatre:

[1] Digitisation is the process of converting data and information into a digital format known as computer code.

[2] The word ‘theatre’ used as a broad term to include conventional drama based practice in a theatre building but also contemporary, experimental practice and a wider context of live performance.

[3] We are now living in what is often referred to as the digital age, where most of our information and communication is in binary (digital) code and for this generation computers have become an essential part of our lives.

[4] ‘Conventional’ – referring to performances in a traditional theatre building (usually proscenium arch) where there is a clearly defined audience role, that of reserved spectator.

[5] Theatre in Education (TIE) an approach where the notion of participation enables young people to discuss and play out difficult situations and issues in a safe environment.

[6] ‘The basic distinction is between a deep approach to learning, where students are aiming towards understanding, and a surface approach to learning, where they are aiming to reproduce material in a test or exam rather than actually understand it.’ The Higher Education Academy (2011)

[7] Gorilla Theatre, derived from the term gorilla warfare because it happens in the community environment, is mobile and dynamic.

[8] Live Art can be defined as ‘when an artist chooses to make work directly in front of the audience in space and time.’ Sofaer (2011)

[9] The Live Art Development Agency: a UK based organisation that supports the research, documentation, funding and development of live art practice and practitioners.

[10] ‘Share’ a term used by social media such as Twitter and Facebook,as a method of posting comments, photos and events and disseminating them to other contacts.