Daily Archives: 2011.May.20

Words, Emotions, and How Your Audience is Feeling

Many’s the time I’ve sat in readings and development workshops and been asked, “Who is your audience?” It’s one of my least favorite questions. What am I supposed to say? “People with good taste”? How do I choose to experience my entertainment? Based on what I want to feel. I suspect I’m not alone in this. When you pick up a novel, what makes you choose Bridget Jones instead of H.P. Lovecraft? (Or vice versa?)

I don’t know the traditional demographic features – age, gender, race, hair color – of an audience that will like my work. I have a pretty good idea of the kinds of books they read, the characters they enjoy, the stories and themes that stir their emotions. But their salaries? The number of kids they have? Isn’t that why market research was invented?

“Who’s your audience” is a reductive question. It assumes that once an audience is identified, the play will change to suit that audience. I would argue that during the development process, the goal should be to create the strongest work possible – then decide how to market it to the public.
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