Exploring and Enhancing Young Audiences Experience of Theatre

Theatre (Matthew Reason)

Since 2007 Matthew Reason has been undertaking ongoing research into young audiences’ experiences of theatre, dance and performance. This began with a project titled ‘Drawing the Theatrical Experience’, conducting in collaboration with Imaginate and funded by the Scottish Government Education Department. This used visual-arts workshop to explore with young audiences their memories, experiences and responses to a range of theatre and dance performance. This research resulted in a book (The Young Audience, Trentham Books 2010) and various academic and industry facing publication and has impacted on how Theatre for Children as a field has engaged with and understood its audiences.

One of the most significant focuses and ongoing elements of the research was to consider how young audiences’ experiences of theatre and dance might be ‘extended’, that is what is their afterlife in drawing, conversation, talk, play, beyond the duration of the performance. This avenue of enquiry has resulted in further projects developing online resources with Imaginate and more recently ‘talking about theatre’ conversation booklets with the April Festival (Denmark). The result is currently starting to focus on young audiences and questions of diversity and difference.

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