The Audience as Myth and Reality

  • Lars Kleberg
Part of the New Directions in Theatre book series (NDT)


As we have attempted to show, the late nineteenth-century notion of the theatre as the socially most significant art form was based on the concept of the ‘representative auditorium’. The Wagnerian people’s theatre Utopia derived its great moral and political authority from the idea that the entire collective — the nation, the people — was sitting in the amphitheatre or was at least somehow directly represented there. When the actors addressed the audience, they were addressing the collective as a whole. And when the audience joined with the actors in the community of the theatre, this union encompassed the collective as a whole.


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  1. 2.
    H. Kindermann and M. Dietrich (eds), Das Theater und sein Publikum. Referate der Internationalen theaterwissenschaftlichen Dozentenkonferenzen in Venedig 1975 und Wien 1976 (Vienna, 1977) gives an overview of current approaches and the still elementary level of research in the field until the 1970s. For a survey of later developments, see the special issue ‘Le rôle du spectacteur’ of the French journal Théâtre public, 55 (1984), and Marco de Marini, ‘Dramaturgy of the Spectator’, Drama Review, 114 (Summer 1987), pp. 100–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 3.
    The only researchers who, to my knowledge, have dealt with this topic approach it exclusively from the point of view of the development of Soviet theatrical sociology, leaving unconsidered the question of its relationship to the theatrical practice of the mid-1920s. See V. Dmitrievskii, ‘O konkretno-sotsiologicheskom izuchenii teatral’nogo zritelia’, in Teatr i dramaturgiia, vol. 2 (Leningrad, 1967), pp. 146–69Google Scholar

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© Lars Kleberg 1993

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  • Lars Kleberg

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