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DM

David Mason

Rhodes College
The Limits of Mimesis in Religious Performance
USA
In Audience Engagement and the Role of Arts Talk in the Digital Era Lynne Conner argues that, “The pleasure inherent in the interpretive function is enhanced significantly when meaning is made social (Palgrave 2013)”. The contemporary theatre audience has become a restless participant in a traditionally constructed (e.g. passive) viewing experience. Those who go to the theater don’t want to just sit and watch a play; they want to talk about it. The Google/YouTube/Twitter/Facebook world we live in has trained us to engage, to talk back, to question what we see and hear in the world around us. As immersive theater’s current popularity testifies, if we want to develop a deep and meaningful relationship with those who witness our work, we need to rethink the audience engagement paradigm. This paper will examine the mechanisms and possibilities in audience engagement before, after, in and around the presentation of a play. What is the value of providing extra events for theater patrons? What value for the artist? What are possible modes of engagement that can broaden, deepen, refract or redirect the artist/patron conversation? Using actual examples of a variety of engagement techniques (including clips and photographs), I will demonstrate how getting the audience involved in and around the production has the potential to provide a deeper layer of meaning for the theater patron and to facilitate the social engagement many long to experience when attending the theater.