The likely makeup for our audience:
As our performance is to be done outside and for the Christmas fair in Bury St Edmunds, we know that the majority of our audience will likely be passes by from the public. Therefore as a result of this we cannot assume a specific age demographic. We could have any age appearing so it is important that our project caters to the lowest common denominator so that the content is appropriate and enjoyable to all. We also believe that a natural human formation for performances outside and to the public, is to gather around the action to surround it. This could result in the audience naturally creating an ‘in the round’ staging for our piece. However we decided that we needed a space for our props and a way to set boundaries so we thought that we should rehearse and perform using a thrust staging. The article bellow explains that when working in the round in a theatre ‘dressing rooms are often built under a raised performance space’ which isn’t something we can physically achieve in the public space we will be provided. This was another reason why we chose a thrust staging formation. That way it still conforms to what a passes by audience will naturally do, whilst giving us a space to keep to keep actors who aren’t on stage, a place for props and also where we can enter and exit, as a public audience wont necessarily know to leave space for vomitoriums if we had chosen the round.
The Drama Teacher. (2016). Theatre Spaces. Available: http://www.thedramateacher.com/theatre-spaces/. Last accessed 15th Oct 2016.
On top of this, it is likely that our audience or some of our audience may not have a cultural understanding and knowledge of theatre. An article on the stage website says that theatre is more popular than ever. A statistic from 2013 was that 63% of the UK population has attended theatre in the last year. Even though this is the case a more recent article on the stage says that from research ‘only 15% see two or more shows a year’. This shows that even though the idea of theatre is seemingly becoming more widely accepted, the large majority still are not regular theatre goers. It is in other words still not as popular a form of entertainment as television, which recorded in March 2014, statistics from the Broadcasters Audience Research Board show that around 95% of UK homes have a television set. This means we need to make our pieces as accessible and easy to enjoy for everyone as possible. We don’t want to cancel out those who do not already regularly see theatre but help to encourage more people to enjoy and want to see theatre performances.
Alistair Smith. (2013). Ticketmaster report: theatre audiences getting younger and more experimental. Available: https://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2013/ticketmaster-report-theatre-audiences-getting-younger-experimental/. Last accessed 15th Oct 2016.
Georgia Snow. (2016). Audience Agency data shows ageing demographic of theatregoers. Available: https://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2016/audience-agency-data-shows-ageing-demographic-of-theatregoers/. Last accessed 15th Oct 2016.
Tv Licencing. (2016). Licences facts and figures. Available: http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/about/foi-licences-facts-and-figures-AB18. Last accessed 15th Oct 2016.
Another element for our audiences make up, is that they haven’t made a prior agreement to see the show like ticket holders would have. This means that when performing our street theatre it is important we engage the audience and make the work visually appealing so that we can capture attention and build interest for the piece and theatre in general. Passers-by can also leave at any time because they again have no prior agreement to see the performance, meaning the performance needs to be entertaining and the right length of show to keep its audience.
Constraints and Advantages of the Location and Timing:
We are aiming to keep our pieces relatively short so that it is a realistic hope that the audience will stay and watch the whole performance. As I previously stated, a passers-by audience can leave at any time, so having an appropriate length for the performance is essential with street theatre. If it is too long then our audience will leave and it also means that if they join to watch our piece they may not understand the plot if the piece is overly long. Hence why we have tried to get our performances to last around ten minutes. It is a constraint in the stories we could have chosen but we have found two pieces which fit our needs and should hopefully mean our audiences will stay engaged and understand our story. The location being in the middle of town and in a public area is a definite constraint as to the way we stage our pieces. This is because there are no set barriers unless we make them and also there is a natural way people gather around public entertainment. However as I explained earlier we ended up choosing a thrust stage as it combines both a typical passers-by formation of staging and also allows us a cut off space for props and unused actors in particular scenes. An advantage of working in the location is that it opens up theatre to people who may not be regular theatre goers and introduce them to a new form of entertainment. As we will be performing around the time schools finish, we have a higher likelihood of having some children watching and this gives us an opportunity to educate them on theatre and also educate them through the morals of our pieces, which they have due to types of stories they are which you can see in my Task 1 research.
Our Stories and how they are appropriate for our audience:
For ‘The Magic Paintbrush’ we chose the piece specifically because it could be performed with a very small amount of dialogue. As it is going to be performed in a public space and the Christmas fair may be loud, we wanted something that was more physical and has less dialogue so it can still be understood with background noise over the top. As well as this the plot of the magic paintbrush and our second story is easy to understand. This means that no matter who the audience for our performance ends up being, they should still be able to enjoy it. We have also made sure for both of our pieces to minimalize the violence and complexity so that children would not be put off or frightened by our stories. The lowest common denominator is covered in both pieces. The length is also appropriate for our passers-by audience as they should be able to understand our stories no matter when they join to watch. It also is short enough so they can stand and watch the entire piece without being bored or needing to go. Overall the two pieces should be ideal for our audience make up and fulfil the purposes of the pieces.