Matthew Reason

Audience Research

child drawingMy work explores audiences’ experiential and affective encounters with live performance. I am interested in how audiences both ‘make sense’ and ‘have sense’ (terminology from Sobchack) of the performances that they see. That is how being a spectator entails both conscious, interpretative processes of meaning making and embodied, affective processes of sense having.

My research is often empirical and seeks to develop or adopt methodologies that are appropriate to the context, the particular performance and to the audience in question. This has included using drawing, creative writing and other creative methodologies.

In 2015 I co-edited with Kirsty Sedgman a special issue of Participations on Theatre Audiences. This included 13 fascinating articles on this growing area of research along with a short section introduction by myself on the question of participation and spectatorship.

Some projects relating to audiences are presented below. Also see my full publication list.

Researching …. audiences, spectators, crowds, mobs, participants, witnesses… people.

5 Soldiers Audience Research

5 Soldiers, by the Rosie Kay Dance Company, is a contemporary dance performance that looks at how the human body remains essential to war, even in the 21st century. In … Continue reading

Creative Writing and Audience Research

After watching a dance performance with friends we often leave the theatre and find ourselves asking each other, ‘What did you think?’ Or perhaps, alternatively, ‘Did you enjoy it?’ That … Continue reading

Drawing and Audience Research

Drawing is at once immediate, and yet takes time. The marks on paper – pencil, crayon, ink, pen – appear instantly, they are real and absolute, but the process as … Continue reading

Interactive Mind Map

Qualitative audience research frequently produces large amounts of unruly data. For myself the process of beginning to make sense of or find routes through the unordered mass of material that … Continue reading

Researching with plasticine

Does giving children plasticine help when interviewing them about watching dance? I have previous used visual arts workshops with groups of spectators to explore their experiences of dance and theatre. … Continue reading

Talking About Theatre

Talking About Theatre consists of a series of booklets designed to facilitated children and young people’s post-show conversations about theatre and dance. Operating through a series of questions or instructions, … Continue reading

The Young Audience: Exploring and Enhancing Children’s Experiences of Theatre

Trenthem Books 2010. “This inspirational book, that cares passionately about the child’s gaze, should be welcomed and cherished.” (Tony Graham Artistic Director, Unicorn Theatre) “…a colourful and fascinating account of … Continue reading

The Young Audiences – Japanese Translation & New Forward

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Kaori Nakayama, my book The Young Audience has been translated and published in Japanese (2018). To mark this publication the book has … Continue reading

Theatres of Learning Disability

Over the past decade the work of disabled performers in theatre and dance has received an increasingly high profile, wider audiences and presentation in established venues and festivals. At the … Continue reading

Video Interview, Deakin University (Aus)

During a conference in Melbourne in March 2018, Anne Kershaw of Deakin University asked me to do a video interview for their PG arts management students. Questions: Tell us about … Continue reading

Watching Dance: Kinesthetic Empathy

The Watching Dance project used qualitative audience research and neuroscience to explore how dance spectators respond to and identify with dance. It was a multidisciplinary project, involving collaboration across four … Continue reading

Where in your body?

‘Where in your body?’ is a single question online audience research survey, piloted for performances of 5 Soldiers by Rosie Kay Dance Company and now also disseminated to Scottish Ballet … Continue reading

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