Actor Audience Relationship In my most honest opinion, I believe the ideal actor audience relationship is something that transcends the normal criteria for a performer/audience relationship. It can be a passive or active relationship, for both types fulfill their purpose-creating emotional stimuli- on some level. There is an unspoken, unseen connection between those in the seat and those in the stage. Both viewer and actor feed off each other, whether it is the subtle shedding of a tear from the front row or the impact of a tomato on an underwhelming performer’s face.
There wouldn’t be an audience without actors and vice versa for the audience pays for a ticket to be entertained and the actor performs to entertain the audience. What an audience member wants from an actor/production could be anything; a reminisce of a lost love, resonating a political reservation, a laugh-all these differentiating factors form the distinction that the way an audience acts towards a play totally up to the VIEWER.
It’s their emotional responses; a play does not dictate one how to act but it is the responsibility of the actors and crew to produce emotions. Though on one hand some plays seem more fit to be taken more actively (Rocky Horror) and some more passively (Romeo and Juliet) because of their contextual meanings and how the production as a whole sees itself. A play full of beautiful monologues and sonnets is meant for the more passive viewer, to be soaked into the mind amidst audience silence where musicals sometimes prompt one to move their body and even sings.
Some plays might not mean anything to an audience member so they will remain totally at the end of the passive spectrum just watching actors and waiting to leave their seat. The audience shapes the performance by acting as to whom the playwright wrote for before the production hit the stage. A good playwright knows the audience/anticipation of an audience influences the juxposition of critical dramatic beats. So automatically the audience influences the script, something has to be written that will draw people into the seats.
Also the audience shapes the overall performances and charisma of actors for those who smile and applaud actively at one’s performance will encourage an actor to commit even further into “the illusion” while being booed might can an actors fumble his lines and throw the performance off balance, thus losing “the illusion”. Furthermore the audience also acts as critics, regarding the chances and reception of future performances. Most importantly, the audience is what pays the bills of everyone involved with the show.
Without the audience providing encouragement, criticism and money-there wouldn’t be the modern conception of a play. Ultimately I feel that the role of the audience should remain varied. Too much participation may not be right for some plays and too little participation may make you look like a lame duck (Rocky Horror for an example). Maybe that is why most plays institute the standard “fourth wall” rule, separating the stage from the audience because it would ruin “the illusion” of the so-called realism plays.
The appeal of audience involvement theorized by the playwright Augusto Boal’s theatrical form of breaking down the “fourth wall” so everyone can participate in the drama seems to be on the rise again, for the evolution of the there world is giving way to experimental writers and directors who encourage audience involvement In the end I feel that Boal’s ideas may be too much of a good thing, and the actor-audience relationship is one where the audience mutes themselves (aside from laughter and applause) and lets the actors on stage be the sole center of attention where the activity of communication/reaction is transported passively to the viewer. (1) Felner, Mira. The World of Theater: Tradition and Innovation. 2006, Pearson.