'There is no audience: meeting the dramaturgical challenges of the spectator in children’s theatre.'

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Facilitators working with young people using drama processes pay particular attention to issues of differentiation within groups, seeking to contextualise and tailor their approaches and to ensure that each individual's needs are recognised and acknowledged. This essay explores how strategies for differentiation may be incorporated into performances for young audiences, rather than treating spectators as part of a homogeneous 'audience'. The analysis is based on a case study of a project undertaken by the University of Ulster for the Belfast Children's Festival 2010, The Little Box of Wonders. It examines how the performance was devised with children as a way of understanding their interests in the material being used and how this developmental process was subsequently articulated through specific dramaturgical strategies. It places these strategies in relation to frameworks for understanding the development of children, connecting theoretical perspectives with proposals for practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTheatre for Young Audiences in the UK
EditorsKarian Schuitema, Tom Maguire
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherUCL Press
ISBN (Print)978-1-85856-501-9
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 22 Dec 2012

Bibliographical note

Reference text: Bennett, S (1990) Theatre Audiences: a theory of production and reception. London: Routledge
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Elam, K (1980) The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama. London: Methuen.
Fleming, ND and Mills, C (1992) Not another inventory, rather a catalyst for reflection. To Improve the Academy 11, pp.137-155 [online] http://www.vark-learn.com/documents/not_another_inventory.pdf January 2012
Freshwater, H (2009) Theatre and Audience. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Gellar, L G (1985) Wordplay and Language Learning for Children. Urbana: National Council for Teachers of English
Keenan, T (2005) An Introduction to Child Development. London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi: Sage Publications
The Little Box of Wonders (2010) by T Maguire and the company. Directed by Tom Maguire. University of Ulster. Foyle Arts Building, Derry and Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast. [May]
Partnership Management Board (2007) Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities for Key Stages 1 & 2. Belfast: CCEA
What a Wonderful World (2009) by M Chiarenza and P Lynch. Directed by Marcello Chiarenza. Lyngo Theatre with the Lyric Hammersmith and the Lighthouse Poole, YouthAction Building, Belfast. May 2009
Wood, D and Grant J (1997) Theatre for children: a guide to writing, adapting, directing and acting. London: Faber and Faber


  • Theatre for Young Audiences
  • spectatorship
  • interactivity
  • dramaturgy


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