Theatre Audience Composition, Preferences, and Perceptions

by W. Crocken, George Heitmann



This article summarizes the results of audience surveys conducted at the Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania during the 1973 summer and fall theatre seasons. The Festival Theatre season extends from mid-July through mid-August and offers four productions, each has eight to ten performances. The plays are professionally staged and directed and all principal acting roles are assumed by professionals, who are affiliated with the Actor's Equity Association. The proportion of students attending fall productions were significantly greater than that evidenced during the summer. Students represented a higher proportion of the audience during Saturday, as contrasted with Thursday night performances and this was true during both the summer and fall seasons, although more markedly evident during the fall. Although audience composition was more or less as would be expected, this was not always true of the preference comparisons, some of which came as surprises. Preference patterns were also found to be statistically dependent upon the frequency of attendance.

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