Matthew Reason

Young Audiences

seanThe experience of children and young people is particularly interesting to research for a number of reasons. Not least of these is that their responses to theatre and dance are often rich and diverse. At the same time they are also as an audience subject to a myriad of dreams and demands placed upon them by adults and society at large. The relationship between young people and the arts is rarely perceived as simply a matter of enjoyment. It is almost always about something else too, whether that be education, moral lessons, or preparing young audience to be the new audiences of the future. All of which says less about young people themselves than it does about us as adults and parents.

My research into young audiences is interested in examining their experiences of theatre as theatre, in the meanings, memories and sensations that they take away from the performances, and in how they can become active spectators who have a sense of autonomy over their experiences and their opinions.

Some projects relating to young audiences are presented below. Other chapters and papers include:

‘The Possibility of Theatre for Children’ in Theatre for Young Audiences: A Critical Handbook, Ed. Karian Schuitema and Tom Maguire. Trentham. 2013

‘The Longer Experience: Theatre for Young Audiences and Enhancing Engagement’, in The Audience Experience. Eds. Radbourne, Glow and  Johanson. Intellect. 2013.

You can download a copy of a 2008 report Drawing the Theatrical Experience Final version.

Also see my full publication list.

Young Audiences

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

Resources for Schools and Teachers

As a result of the collaborative partnership with Imaginate, and developing from the research into how children watch theatre, two resources were produced designed to help school classes enhance their … 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

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

Young Audiences and Live Theatre

One of my earliest pieces of research into theatre audiences explored young people’s perceptions of liveness in performance. Theatre is frequently defined by its ‘liveness’: that is by how it … Continue reading

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