Audience

An audience is a group of people who participate in a show or encounter a work of art, literature, theatre, music or academics in any medium. Audience members participate in different ways in different kinds of art; some events invite overt audience participation and others allowing only modest clapping and criticism and reception.

Media audiences are studied by academics in media audience studies. Audience theory also offers scholarly insight into audiences in general.

Audience participation

Some more advanced audience participation is most commonly found in performances which break the fourth wall. Examples include the traditional British Pantomimes, Stand Up Comedy and creative stage shows such as Blue Man Group.

One of the most well-known examples of popular audience participation is the motion picture "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and its earlier stage incarnation "The Rocky Horror Show". The audience participation elements are often seen as the most important part of the picture, to the extent that the audio options on the DVD version include the option of callbacks being included in the audio.

Another example is the theatrical adventure called "Tamara", set in post-World War II Italy. In "Tamara", audience members trailed cast members around many rooms in a Victorian house, seeing only a portion of the show each time they attended. "Tamara" launched a new level of audience participation.

In the musical, "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" audience members are invited to be guest spellers onstage during the show.

One of the earliest and most famous examples of audience participation in music was Queen's "We Will Rock You" in 1977, when Freddie Mercury and Brian May thought it would be an interesting experiment to write songs with audience participation specifically in mind.

Now murder mysteries and interactive comedies like "Tony and Tina's Wedding" have extended audience participation even further. Members of the audience are cast as members of the fictional family or as suspects in the mystery. Audience members may engage in conversation with the cast, breaking the fourth wall entirely. They may be encouraged to dance with members of the cast, or to step into roles of missing performers. One purpose of this twist to such productions is to force the performers to improvise on the spot, which of course is part of the entertainment.

Another murder mystery is "The Mystery of Edwin Drood", a Broadway musical. In it, the audience must vote for who they think the murderer is, as well as the real identity of the detective and the couple who end up together.

The British panel game "QI" often allows the audience to try and answer questions. Currently, the audience have won one show, and have come last in another.


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  • audience — [ odjɑ̃s ] n. f. • 1160 « action d écouter »; lat. audientia, de audire « entendre » 1 ♦ Vx ou littér. Action de bien vouloir écouter qqn. ⇒ attention. « Je vous demande un moment d audience » (Molière). Par ext. Intérêt porté à qqch. par le… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • audience — AUDIENCE. s. fém. Attention qne l on donne à celui qui parle. Parlez, vous aurez audience. Prêtez moi audience. Donnez moi un moment d audience. Une audience favorable. En ce sens, il se dit plus particulièrement en parlant des Princes, des… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • audience — AUDIENCE. s. f. Attention que l on donne à celuy qui parle. Parlez, vous aurez audience. prestez moy audience. une audience favorable. cela merite vostre audience, est digne de vostre audience. Il se dit plus particulierement en parlant des… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • audience — au‧di‧ence [ˈɔːdiəns ǁ ˈɒː , ˈɑː ] noun [countable] the number or kind of people who watch or listen to something that is broadcast on radio or television, or listen to a particular type of music: • The ad was broadcast on all major channels,… …   Financial and business terms

  • audience — Audience, Audientia. Donner audience, Fauere linguis. B. Donner audience à aucun, Le laisser parler, Orationem alicui dare, Inducere causam, vel cognitionem. B. ex Plinio iuniore. Donner audience, Prester l oreille, Dare aures suas alicui. Donner …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • Audience — Au di*ence, n. [F. audience, L. audientia, fr. audire to hear. See {Audible}, a.] 1. The act of hearing; attention to sounds. [1913 Webster] Thou, therefore, give due audience, and attend. Milton. [1913 Webster] 2. Admittance to a hearing; a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • audience — Au di*ence, n. [F. audience, L. audientia, fr. audire to hear. See {Audible}, a.] 1. The act of hearing; attention to sounds. [1913 Webster] Thou, therefore, give due audience, and attend. Milton. [1913 Webster] 2. Admittance to a hearing; a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • audience — late 14c., the action of hearing, from O.Fr. audience, from L. audentia a hearing, listening, from audientum (nom. audiens), prp. of audire to hear, from PIE compound *au dh to perceive physically, grasp, from root *au to perceive (Cf. Gk.… …   Etymology dictionary

  • audience — [n1] group observing an entertainment or sporting event admirers, assemblage, assembly, congregation, crowd, devotees, fans, following, gallery, gathering, hearers, house, listeners, market, moviegoers, onlookers, patrons, playgoers, public,… …   New thesaurus

  • audience — index assemblage, bystander, collection (assembly), confrontation (act of setting face to face), congregation, interview, session …   Law dictionary

  • audience — / ɔ:djəns/, it. / ɔdjens/ s. ingl. [dal lat. audientia ], usato in ital. al femm., invar. (massm.) 1. [insieme di chi assiste a una trasmissione radiotelevisiva] ▶◀ ascoltatori, pubblico, (non com.) udienza. 2. (estens.) [dato percentuale… …   Enciclopedia Italiana

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