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Locating the Audience

How People Found Value in National Theatre Wales

With a Foreword by John E. McGrath

How do audiences experience live performances? What is gained when a national theater is born? These questions and more are the subject of Locating the Audience—the first in-depth study of how people form relationships with a new theater company. Investigating the inaugural season of National Theatre Wales, Kirsty Sedgman explores how different people felt about the way their communities were engaged and their places “performed” by the theater’s productions. Mapping the complex interplay between audience experience and identity, the book presents a significant contribution to our contemporary project of defining cultural value. Rather than understanding value as an end point—“impact”—Sedgman makes the provocative claim that cultural value can better be understood as a process. By talking to audiences and capturing pleasures and disappointments, Locating the Audience shows the meaning-making process in action.

230 pages | 5 halftones | 7 x 9 | © 2016

Art: Art--General Studies

Culture Studies

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"Thoroughly grounded in developments in cultural and performance studies. . . . By focusing on [National Theatre Wales], Sedgman also opens up rich avenues for thinking about how theatre-going intersects with community, place and local and national identity. . . . Her two site-specific case studies are fascinating. . . . Sedgman is good at simultaneously unpacking what people are saying and how they are saying it, considering the cultural capital of her respondents."

Times Literary Supplement

"An engaging and accessible introduction to both the theoretical and practical questions surrounding cultural value, measurement, audiences, and theatre, the book will interest a range of humanities and social science scholars."

New Books Network

"Locating the Audience seeks to open up wider questions about perceptions of participation, of place in performance and of who gets to speak of cultural value, on what terms, and with what authority or confidence. . . . Sedgman makes a useful challenge to discussions around the politics of community theatre, attentive to variations of response and differences within audiences. . . . Whet[s] an appetite for the discursive analysis arising from the case-study productions, which is especially rewarding. . . . Nuance and reflexivity are strengths of this work."

Studies in Theatre and Performance

"[Sedgman] grapples closely with arguments about national identity that have material consequences in a competitive arts-funding environment, with finely tuned (and finely theorized) reporting that yields fresh insights after Loren Kruger’s work on national theatres. By beginning with 558 post-show questionnaires and following up a year later with twenty-two phone interviews, Sedgman illustrates how cultural value emerges as a process over time rather than at a fixed point."

Theatre Journal

Table of Contents

Foreword by John E. McGrath
Chapter 1: Why (and How to) Study Theater Audiences?
Chapter 2: Dancing into a Minefield: The Launch of National Theatre Wales
Chapter 3: ‘Local’ Theatre for ‘Local’ People: Framing Audience Response
Chapter 4: For Mountain, Sand & Sea
Chapter 5: The Persians
Chapter 6: ‘Do You Think the Audience Will Get It?’

Appendix 1: National Theatre Wales’ First-Year Productions
Appendix 2: Methodological Appendix
Appendix 3: Post-Show Questionnaire

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