Though there are many first generation theatre goers, most audiences are filled by people who have been taught to attend the arts. What gets parents to take their children to see plays and encourage them to view performances? A family friendly plot helps, but it’s the interaction that the families feel to the performance. Today’s theatre technology helps audiences to connect to the show and get passed on to the younger generation.
Starlight Express originally opened in 1984 and this summer Tuachan’s main audience was young children who were brought to the show by parents who may have been familiar to the show previously. These children loved the magical world of trains coming to life and riding out into the audience. Because of this interaction children begged their parents to come back and see the show multiple times. The children who attended this production that used the simple technology of roller blades and an extended stage will hold this experience dear and are will be more likely to attend theatre in their adult years.
Another company that effectively uses audience interaction is Cirque de Solei. For their new show, Michael Jackson ONE, they have an opportunity for audiences to get their picture taken before entering the theatre and then instantly that picture is transmitted and made to look like the front of a tabloid. After finding their seats, audience members have their pictures taken by performers who are acting like paparazzi. All of this is to give the audience a connection to Michael Jackson and how he felt throughout his career. This personal link to the performances encourages theatre goers to seek out more shows in the future.
Shows do not have to have crazy technology to get their shows to interact with the viewers. Whether audiences are attending shows with actors on roller skates or shows with acrobats, if we use technology effectively we can reach the next generation of theatre attendees and encourage them to continue partake of the arts.