American Theatre Articles

A key component of Audience (R)Evolution is to study and promote successful audience engagement and community development strategies at not-for-profit theatres across the U.S., and share our findings with the field. TCG's publication American Theatre has supported the program in this way, interviewing leaders at institutions with well-regarded community initiatives, and reporting on convenings where theatre professionals gather to discuss audience engagement and equity, diversity, and inclusion. Please find a collection of the most recent articles addressing these topics below.

October 2018: Engagement and Education Package by American Theatre Editors

In our fraught and divided age, many theatremakers are harkening back to theatre’s roots as a town hall, a public forum, a community gathering place. In that spirit, this year our national season preview looks at the programming surrounding the mainstage seasons, from lobby displays to pre- and post-show talkbacks [...]

October 2018: Engage! by Allison Considine

In many ways a theatre can be compared to a community center—both are public places to gather, to socialize, to learn, to be entertained. Now some theatres are intentionally taking up the mantle, fashioning themselves into civic hubs where engagement programs are designed to connect onstage programming with audiences apart from their time in a darkened theatre [...]

October 2018: Talkback Backtalk by Kerry Reid

David Mamet caused a stir last year when he decided to ban talkbacks after his shows, even going so far as including a fine of $25,000 for any unauthorized post-show discussion in his licensing arrangements. It’s easy enough to decry such a rule as an authoritarian impulse, but the fact is that plenty of playwrights and theatre artists over the years have expressed skepticism, if not quite hostility, about the whole panel-after-a-performance ritual and its purported value. [...]

October 2018: Come On Up to Pillsbury House by Theresa J. Beckhusen

“How do you democratize the space?” This question lives in the minds of Noël Raymond and Faye Price, co-artistic managing director and co-artistic producing director, respectively, of Pillsbury House + Theatre—abbreviated as PH+T—in Minneapolis. [...]

May/June 2018: Immigrant Representation Matters Too by Theresa J. Beckhusen

Metal detectors. Detailed forms and questionnaires asking for name, religion, country of origin, parents’ countries of origin. Guards pulling certain people out of line for special screening or another go-round with the metal detector. This wasn’t customs or a checkpoint for asylum seekers. It was the pre-show experience for audiences attending Cleveland Public Theatre’s production of American Dreams [...]

April 2018: At the Intersections by Allison Considine

If you’ve been around theatre practitioners for any length of time, you’ve probably heard the word “engagement.” It conjures different meanings in different areas. What does this buzzword mean in the theatre? “It’s just like making friends,” said Cortney McEniry, the director of community engagement at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. “You go out into the community, you meet people, you find out what they care about and are passionate about, and you figure out with the connection is [...]

April 2018: Are We Ready to Take Engagement All the Way to Justice? by Chad Bauman

In late March, hundreds of artistic, managerial, engagement and education leaders from theatres in more than 30 states came to Milwaukee for the inaugural Intersections Summit hosted by Milwaukee Repertory Theater, where I serve as managing director. The goal of the convening was to give space to practitioners for reflection, inquiry, and collaboration as our theatres nationwide move toward engagement at increasing frequencies [...]

December 2017: Ten Thousand Things, All of Them Teachable by Theresa J. Beckhusen

“If I was going to spend my life making theatre, I didn’t want to make art for rich people.” This is how Michelle Hensley, artistic director of Ten Thousand Things (TTT), a theatre company in Minneapolis, kicked off a recent conference held by TTT, Dec. 3-4 at Open Book. Supported by Theatre Communications Group’s Audience (R)Evolution program [...]

September 2017: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Documentary Theatre? Amelia Parenteau

What’s in a name? Of the seven contemporary theatremakers I spoke to for this piece, not one was happy with the term “documentary theatre” to describe their work. All had reasons for rejecting it: it felt too clinical, or they didn’t know what it meant, or they felt that other people were pursuing it more seriously and didn’t want to falsely lay claim to it. [...]

July/August 2017: The Public Works Community Goes National by Lindsey Wilson

Kevin Moriarty would like to start a new tradition. In less than a decade, the artistic director of Dallas Theater Center wants every theatre in America to be producing a Public Works show over Labor Day weekend. “This has been one of the most terrifying and exhilarating, not to mention profoundly revolutionary, projects I’ve ever worked on,” Moriarty enthused [...]