Publication Date

Summer 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Theatre Arts


Alison L. McKee


Audience, Engagement, Internet, Participation, Theatre, website

Subject Areas

Theater; Information technology; Performing arts


This thesis explores whether theatre Web sites contain tools that have the potential to deepen audience engagement in live performance. By synthesizing data from a variety of scholarly sources, it presents a thorough and specific definition of engagement (active participation through educated interpretation, conversation and critique, social connection to a theatre company's community, or creative expression) and makes a detailed case that online tools can increase audience engagement. Because it addresses the significance of engagement and Internet technologies to audience participation in the theatrical event, this study is relevant not only to theatre and arts participation scholars but also to theatre companies and other arts organizations.

To provide an unbiased account of how theatre Web sites may deepen audience engagement, this study examined the Web presences of a randomly selected group of American not-for-profit theatre companies, identifying engaging elements and analyzing their features and functions. All of the sampled theatre Web presences contained elements that could increase audience engagement, and these elements offered the possibility of engagement in all its forms--educated interpretation, conversation and critique, social connection, and creative expression.