Author Topic: COMMUNICATION: Describing Audience Reactions in Performance Reports  (Read 11306 times)

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ReyYaySM

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My producer requires me to describe how the audience reacts to each performance.  I find myself using the same phrases over and over as I have only come up with so many ways to say they enjoyed the show or were vocally responsive throughout or there was applause after each song or conversely that they were quiet and didn't seem to enjoy the show.  What phrases do you typically use in describing an audience?  What is your typical approach in describing the mood of the house? 

missliz

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I have the same problem often too! If it's apparent, I'll single out a moment or character that was especially popular (ex: "Mostly older audience, really took to Aunt Sally"; "Audience began singing along to 'Why Are All These Heads Off?'") which I've been told is helpful as it lets the director know what's really "working" for the audience.
I personally would like to bring a tortoise onto the stage, turn it into a racehorse, then into a hat, a song, a dragon and a fountain of water. One can dare anything in the theatre and it is the place where one dares the least. -Ionesco

Candy0081

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I think many of us have this same problem.  I find myself trying to find memorable moments of the night that landed or didn't land.  In the show I am currently working on we also include a house count so I will find myself saying things like "small wednesday matinee attendance with quiet responses."  And at times I say the same thing over and over.  If nothing else it lets everyone know that the show is getting a consistent response. 

BeckyGG

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I tend to always put audience reaction in my reports when calling from a booth position where I can really gauge the audience...I find for comedies, etc. it's helpful to track what the audience is responding to.  Since I do a lot of new works, playwrights like to know what works/what doesn't.  The PR people also seem to like finding out what their audience base likes.

A thesaurus is always helpful for finding new ways to say the same thing.  I usually pull out a moment or two in which the audience really seemed to connect with the action (raucous laughter, attentively watching on the edge of their seat, I could hear people sniffling...) I'll also say if it's a "quiet but attentive" audience.  Usually I'll put the reaction at curtain call (enthusiastic applause, standing ovation, etc).
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Rebbe

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I tend to cycle through good/solid/high-energy/low-energy/quiet/fine/excellent/great/fast-paced performance; I guess you could use some of those phrases to describe the audience, too.  I basically guess the mood of the audience from their laughs and vocalizations, occasionally I’m in a thrust theater where I can actually see their faces to judge that way too. I often have some note about audience reaction, especially for curtain call, and when something unusual happens (distinctive laugh/sleeping in the front row/random applause), but I’m surprised that you are actually required to put it there.   Hopefully the producer realizes that you can only report your estimation of the audience response; that your main job is calling the show, so you can’t always monitor or note what’s happening in the house.  Plus, reactions from the house don’t always reflect the quality of the performance.  I’ve had houses that don’t laugh at anything in a funny play, but say that it was hilarious in the post-show talk, and nights when an actor was just going through the motions, but the crowd went wild anyway.  I guess if your audience is giving the same reaction, it's ok to give the same description of it. 
"...allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster."  (Philip Henslowe, Shakespeare In Love)

dee4156

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Awesome subject.. I almost posted this myself last summer. Wouldn't it be great to have a performance report thesaurus handy?    ;D  Not because we're lazy, just because we want to be as detailed as possible. I had a well-known director approach me after a long run and take the time to tell me he really loved my show reports because they were so detailed. So just know your efforts are appreciated even if it seems you send them off into cyberspace..

I usually start with a one or two adjectives (nice, solid, very nice, great, good show, terrific, show) and then elaborate with energy levels, audience, specific sections if any stand out - whether they were "strong" or "under par". Whether the show was "consistent" or had fresh moments. For a particularly good show I use "beautiful" and/or "moving" or if I have been moved even after having seen it numerous times, I will mention that. I also mention at the end how well the curtain call was received and if there was a standing ovation or "partial" standing ovation. I find honesty is best rather than trying to be fancy. It gets easier with time.. and if you jot notes or ideas that come to mind during the performance.

I think it's much harder doing a show report for a show you think has been directed with some weakness. The show is upholding the integrity that the director left but you know it can be better.
"Life is tough, but it's tougher if you're stupid" ~John Wayne

actingpilot

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These have all been great ideas on ways to show audience reactions! This begs me to ask a question however:  Do most SMs find that they are required by their directors to have audience reactions in their performance reports?  I am a relatively new stage manager for a local community theatre and have never been asked that before.  I can see how it could be quite helpful and I think I will try it out on my next project!

LCSM

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I've never been required per se, but I usually include a note or two about the audience. Generally it's just receptive/quiet/stading ovation/etc. but if there's ever an incident or amusing anecdote I put that in as well. I don't go into great detail as it's impossible to tell exactly how any audience is recieving the play. If cues were off because of audience reaction I note that too.

On_Headset

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In the two years I worked as a house manager, I used the words "Nice, quiet crowd." far more often than any others.

Understand that the purpose of the audience reaction box isn't so much to get a detailed portrait of every audience, it's so that if and when things do go horribly I-want-my-money-back, screw-you-and-this-poxy-theatre wrong, you have documentation and evidence that someone took ownership of the situation.

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