7.2.2 Researching a performance – some challenges


Before I go into some of the findings and observations, it seems necessary to point out some of the challenges involved in doing research on a performance, especially when investigating performative aspects such as the emotional and physical experiences of the audience. For example, the information we obtained from the audience during the two first rounds was probably influenced by:


–       The setting of the performance as a research project: the audience knew that they were a part of a research project and that they would be interviewed after the performance. This probably had an impact on how they perceived it.

–       The choice of “test” audience: during the first round a very informed group of interested and educated participants; during the second round a group of students from the Queen Maud University College of Early Childhood Education (DMMH) – mostly women in their 20s.

–       The individual interpretations of the questions asked[1]


The third round was part of an open symposium at Teaterhuset Avant Garden in Trondheim, which was also held in a rather special context: an interested and probably well-informed theatre audience, in a setting where oral responses after the performance were wanted and expected. This experience points to the fact that a “neutral” audience, and a “neutral” setting, are of course an illusion. And this also applies to the “real world”, as I will show later.


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[1] In research one often speaks about validity regarding these kinds of questions. Still, this method represents a higher degree of ecological validity” than most other research on performance, due to the live situation, not the video version of a performance. (Bergsland in conversation, see also Appendix no 4.).

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