Talking Theatre: Developing Audiences for Regional Australia

By Rebecca Jane Scollen.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Theatre is commonly understood to be a reflection of, or comment on, or alternative to, the collective culture it is presented in. It is argued to be a place for examining the concepts of culture and to play a significant role in the presentation and development of cultures. Yet there are many people in Australia who do not recognise Theatre as an interface to their cultures.
The Talking Theatre research project (2004-2006) was an audience development initiative implemented in regional Queensland and in the Northern Territory in Australia. The project sought to assist performing arts centres to better engage with their local communities and to build new audiences for the future. In particular, the research aimed to understand non-theatregoers; their reasons for non-attendance, their perspectives about theatregoing culture, and their reactions to a range of live performances they experienced under study conditions.
The Talking Theatre project found that the cultures re-presented on stage were not that different to the cultures of the non-theatregoers. The participants in the research made clear that the theatrical performances and the social aspect of theatre attendance did reflect their cultures. Limited awareness of Theatre’s relevance to their lives combined with a lack of positive peer influence to attend, were the chief deterrents to theatre attendance for the non-theatregoers in the study.

Keywords: Culture, Interface, Non-Theatregoers, Theatre, Symbolic Interactionism, Audience Development, Regional Australia, Community

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.103-114. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 627.111KB).

Dr. Rebecca Jane Scollen

Manager, Artsworx, Artsworx, Faculty Of Arts, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia

Dr. Rebecca Scollen manages Artsworx in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Southern Queensland. Prior to this appointment in late 2006, Rebecca completed a three-year Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship where she operated as primary researcher and trainer for the Talking Theatre project. Before taking on this role Rebecca taught in the Creative Industries Faculty at the Queensland University of Technology. She also ran a successful audience research, reception and development consultancy in Queensland.

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