Audience and Mise-en-Scène: Manipulating the Performative Aesthetic

  • Mehrdad Rayani Makhsous

Student thesis: Phd


The objective of this thesis is to examine the impact audiences have on the director's process of creating a mise-en-scène and to understand the ways in which we might begin to understand and articulate such impact. I argue that the influence audiences have on theatre directors' mise-en-scenes have been ambiguous, and therefore there is a lack in a systematic approach to theatre-making. Through a detailed investigation on the arbitrary methods employed by a selected group of theatre directors, I propose that a communicative approach in capturing audiences' expectations is necessary in shaping mise-en-scenes, directly and indirectly. More specifically, this thesis makes explicit these cognitive processes through a technical investigation, a mechanism which I propose and have graphically represented that can be used to harness the impact audiences have on theatre-making. In this thesis, the historical role and influence of the audience is discussed in Chapter One. This is followed by focusing on different of aspects of the audience, such as the attraction and captivation of audience, reception and perception of audience, and audience and culture. In Chapter Two there are two sections to define dramaturgy and mise-en-scène. I also argue that there are three key points in the communication between the audience and the theatre group: (i) audience pleasure, (ii) deadness, and (iii) distance. I present a diagram in order to suggest the relationship between the director, audience and mise-en-scène with an emphasis on their pathways in receiving audiences' expectations. The diagram is developed throughout the thesis. In Chapter Three the study is motivated primarily by the individual styles and mise-en-scenes of Augusto Boal, Eugenio Barba, Peter Brook and Robert Lepage. Here I explore specifically the ways in which they have imagined, created, and performed mise-en-scenes, and the role audiences play in impacting their mise-en-scenes. Chapter Four is based on three case studies with the final suggested diagram at the end. As part of my research, I created and examined three case studies to support the hypothesis that audiences have an important impact on directors' mise-en-scenes, i.e. how and why the director controls and manipulates theatrical elements. In conclusion, four main pathways for receiving audiences' expectations are suggested.
Date of Award1 Aug 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMaggie Gale (Supervisor) & Alison Jeffers (Supervisor)


  • pleasure of the audience
  • dramaturgy
  • Hozor-e-Teckniky
  • distance
  • mise-en-scene
  • performative aesthetic
  • audience
  • deadness

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