Thursday, December 2, 2010

Gods and Groundlings: Historical Theatrical Audiences

Before cell phones or internet marketing or even electrical lighting, how did theatre audiences function in various periods and cultures? How did they behave? What did they expect? What was expected of them? Who came and who stayed home—and why? The 2011 Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) Theatre Symposium will focus on audience reception, expectations and obligations, behaviors, “contracts” with performers, etc. in early- and pre-20th-Century cultures. Possible topics:
- Effect of audience behavior on performance or playwriting conventions;
- Class distinctions within audiences;
- Violation of or submission to social expectations of audiences;
- Unusual or typical “contracts” with specific audiences;
- Relationship of evolving audience expectations to social change or upheaval;
- Blurred or enforced distinctions between performers and their audiences;
- Role of concessions or other non-theatrical elements of theatre attendance;
- Etc.
Research on both Western and non-Western audiences is welcomed. Selected papers presented at the conference will be published in Volume 20 of SETC’s annual Theatre Symposium journal.

The Symposium will be held at Furman University in Greenville, SC, April 15-17, 2011. Please send one-page abstracts by January 10, 2011, to Please use “LastName TS Abstract” as your subject line. Abstracts should include complete contact information (snail mail, email, phone).
Please contact Bert Wallace, Editor, at or 910.814.4328 with any questions. Thank you.