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Lessons in Drama: Detective Fiction and the Interactive Audience

Paul E. Turtola

Contents of Curriculum Unit 99.04.07:

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In my few years of teaching drama to middle and high school students, a priority has been to provide students with a creative atmosphere so that they are able to express themselves in an informed manner. While this unit will continue to focus on this premise by creating plays from detective fiction, a new concentration towards the study of interactive audiences and cultural patterns of aesthetic tradition will begin.

I feel that the art of watching and listening to a public performance has been lost among our technology-crazed and TV-watching culture. Live theatre, it seems, has taken a back seat to television, the movies and computers in terms of appeal, and the art form seems to have less effect on people's aesthetic sense. The theatre does not stimulate or provide the same excitement or entertainment as it has in the past, and in my unit I will try to figure out why this is so and do something about rectifying it.

My curriculum unit concentrates on two primary areas:

A: Creating drama lessons based on detective fiction where interaction as an audience member is a part of the educational experience.

The drama lessons begin by reading and solving a number of detective stories and puzzles, and then they will elaborate on one of those stories. A play will be made which will be performed in front of a visiting class. The unit contains a description of daily puzzles along with creative ideas for teaching each one of them, and other useful lesson plans relevant to the stories are provided. Keeping in mind the demand of meeting the needs of students, this unit gives teachers other resources to pick lessons from, and it will contain plans created by other teachers who have used this interesting genre of fiction.

B. An in depth study of the audience and how our aesthetic sense of culture has changed throughout our existence.

____ This unit deals with improving young people's audience skills, and particular emphasis is placed on interactivity, proper conduct and accountability. By looking into the characteristics of theatrical audiences of the ages, perhaps a clearer picture of our modern viewers can be formed. By doing this, certain types of plays may be developed that will make public performances in schools more attractive to our young modern viewers.

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Part 1: Detective Fiction Lessons

There are many titles of short stories, which are applicable to the teaching of this curriculum unit. Any detective mystery may be used in the following lessons, for the lesson plans are created to be both flexible and formulaic in their composition. The simple materials that are called for, and the way they are used, are easily adapted to any detective story, since the activities deal with investigative strategies for solving all types of cases.

In the lessons provided, I used two different types of puzzles. The first one is from a book called Two- Minute Mysteries by DJ School. It lays the story out in a concise and straightforward way, and gives students an opportunity to think about the details of the narrative. The need to use sensory skills and research come into play as students search for answers. The other type of puzzle I have selected deals with resourcefulness also, but is a more necessary skill in making an essential discovery in order to solve the case. In other words, the answer is cleverly spelled out for the investigator while actually mapping out the instructions given in the story. This puzzle comes from a book entitled Great Quicksolve Whodunit Puzzles by Jim Sukach. The main character, Dr. J.L. Quicksolve, is included in most of the book's chapters. His son Junior also helps out, and as the detectives uncover clues to each mystery, the reader gets an opportunity to solve the case (the answers are provided in the back of the book.).

Some of the lesson plan strategies deal with using creative ideas to gather data, review the information and make a final statement. Most of the materials provided are art supplies and library reference tools, but theatrical activities also play a vital part with creativity. The need to act out certain cases will help the "junior detectives" work out their theories and perhaps even solve the crime.

By understanding the need to be observant, students who work on their listening and watching skills by creatively engaging in fun activities, will learn a great deal about the work of the detective. They also need to process information in order to report accurately on their findings and conclusions. Included in the lessons are ideas to improve observational skills, and with the collaboration of other teachers, this objective can be successfully reached. The use of teamwork will be important to this undertaking, for it incorporates many levels of thinking in different academic areas. Using a science teacher to explain forensics, a geography teacher for map making, and even a math teacher to read a scaled diagram can be both fun and an interesting and educational way to study each case.

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"The Case of the Dentist's Patient", A Mini Unit in Two Lessons

Lesson Plan #1 (Day One)


Today we begin detective work on a mystery story, "The Case of the Dentist's Patient", which we have already read in class. While we have looked at puzzles and have tried to guess at some answers to them, we will now embark on actual detective work to accurately solve the mystery.


Students read a detective story and begin to solve the crime at hand by doing the following:

- find clues, which may solve the case.
- list important people that are a part of the story.
- make a time line or plot list, which can track events in the story and thereby explain the mystery.
- diagram and map out settings and events in the story.
- draw pictures of room arrangements, clothing, or faces of people involved in the story.
- chart each character's coming and goings throughout the course of the story.
After collecting vital information, students can begin to process their data, follow up on clues they have found, ask further questions, and finally, write their explanation on how they solved the case.

The Lesson:

____ The class begins with a re-reading of "The Case of the Dentist's Patient", and has an ample supply of colored pencils, markers, rulers, graph paper, writing paper, construction paper, scissors and other art supplies at their disposal. Students are to work in pairs using whatever resources they can use to solve the case.


Collect as much information on this case by doing at least three items from the project list. If, after completing three items, you are unable to solve the case, attempt to do other items listed or work on one of your own ideas.

1 Draw a diagram of all the locations mentioned in the story and plot each character's movements from place to place. Label each character with a colored marker, or paste a picture of the character on your diagram and draw a line, which follows his or her movement throughout the story.
2 Make a list of each person involved in the case and write a paragraph or outline of notes, which have been accumulated, on each person. Write in detail about each person's physical description, past history, education, occupation, relationship to others, unusual habits, impediments, or anything else, which you find worth noting about in your investigation.
3 Using a variety of reference tools, learn about places, people and things that are foreign to you as it applies to the story. If there is something that you are unfamiliar with, it will be very important to learn about such matters for your investigation to be thorough and accurate. Do not rely on guessing about the significance of uncertain things that pertain to the case. Use books, newspapers, atlases, encyclopedias, magazines, dictionaries and the Internet to learn. For instance, one particular term used in "The Case of the Dentist's Patient" is the use of the phrase "Sing-Sing". This phrase will be important to know about, and may enter into your ability to solve the case, so you should find out what it is and why it is meaningful to this story. Such research will be an important element in your final explanation of the facts when solving the case.
4 Draw a picture of each character and include such important items as facial features, body parts, hair, eyes, accessories (eye glasses, jewelry, tattoos, piercing) and clothing.
5 Make a timeline to track the events in the story in the chronological order in which they occurred. After the timeline is completed, compare events, people and times and construct a Venn diagram to shoe similarities and differences. By recording the data in this fashion, a visual presentation may enable you to see clearly what you are theorizing in your search for an answer.
6 Re-enact one or two scenes of the story. This activity may unveil parts of the case that you hadn't thought about or been aware of from just reading about it. Bringing the case to life could give you a different perspective of different characters in the story, and may lead to a unique and surprising development, which will allow you to solve the case.


Students will need to finish gathering information and complete their three project ideas for homework if they are unable to do the whole investigation in one class period. Students are to bring in all of their gathered data the next day in order to process their work and begin to construct their report which describes the solved case.

Lesson Plan #2 (Day Two)


Using the information gathered in the previous class, students begin to solve the case, report on their conclusion, and provide evidence to support their statement.


Students solve the case by:

- Reviewing the information they worked on in class and a t home.
- Organizing their findings and preparing a guess sheet which outlines possibilities for answers and conclusions.
- Deciding on the best possible answer to the crime with the data they have gathered and researched.
- Writing a conclusive essay, which states their answer and provides supportive evidence.

The Lesson:

Each pair of students will work together, assemble all of their data, and study each other's homework. Using the graphs, diagrams, pictures and notes, each pair will compose a "guess" sheet, which should offer a number of possible answers to the case. This paper will be a good worksheet to bounce ideas around, try out theories and eliminate weak guesses from strong ones. Each guess will be stated plainly as a heading, and will include three or four items as sub headings that support the idea. If the need to break down the supporting items is needed, then further sub headers may be written. The objective here is to break down each statement into supporting ideas, and to detail the ideas until the answer of the case becomes logical and substantiated by evidence.

While the students create this guess sheet, the teacher reviews each pair's work by making sure the proper outline format is being used and that the ideas are clearly stated and supported by their data. Content is not as important in this part of their work: form and structure is what is to be concentrated on. By learning this kind of organization, students (unknowingly) prepare for their early skills in writing formal papers using the traditional methods of note taking, writing an outline, and eventual composition of drafts. Once students complete their guess sheet or outline, the teacher assigns the final report.


For homework, students will select the strongest theory from their outline and write an essay explaining their answer to the case and how they solved it. In addition, all supportive evidence must be presented along with this well written statement. The teacher is to be provided with all of the pictures, graphs, timelines, etc. to show how the investigator has backed up his conclusions, and can be used later on as a classroom or hallway display for others to view.

"Maps and Treats", A Lesson Plan on Discovery


In one class period the class reviews the short detective story read in a previous class, and begins to learn map-making skills in order to solve the case. By using the previous knowledge gained in their social studies class on reading an atlas, students get an opportunity to put this knowledge to practical use in their introduction to detective work.


At the conclusion of this lesson, students will be able to:

- Process information by reading a story and recording data graphically by means of making a map.
- Chart clues in a different manner than they may be used to by plotting images on a drawn map, rather than by using words to describe them in a paragraph.
- Appreciate that detective work relies on more than just concrete facts in a book, but also uses sensory work to achieve results.
- Discern directions on a map, learn scale measurement, and understand distances as recorded by compass directions.

The Lesson:

At the start of the lesson students are provided with colored pencils, markers and graph paper. If scale rulers have been taught in an earlier class (perhaps by a math teacher who has instructed them to understand ratios and fractions), then they are used as well. A compass would be a welcome tool as well, and its introduction to the class would be a good way to ensure that students understand points of direction, as this is crucial to solving the case.

Divide the class into groups of four students each, where student reads the story and the others begin to assemble materials and take notes. Each student will divide the work so that each student is preparing data in a different method. One may chart locations mentioned in the story on a large piece of paper, while others record movements of characters and distances traveled. In each of the four days in which the story takes place, explicit directions have been given, and this must be recorded carefully as well as noting what events have taken place at each day's end. Students make lists of what the characters do each day, who they see, what places they pass along each journey, and where each trip ends.

The teacher must urge students to make a map which follows the instructions, and to take great care in making it an accurate one, for therein lies the secret of solving this puzzle. After each day's journey, a small surprise awaits the children in the story, with a big surprise to be awarded on the last day. The location of this big prize is the mystery, and only careful detective work will lead students to its resting-place. After accumulating four days worth of maps and clues, careful processing needs to be considered, and only then will the answer become apparent. Here is a review of each day's instructions:

Day One:

"Start at the well.

Walk one-half mile southeast.

Go one-half mile northeast.

Walk one-half mile southeast.

Go one-half mile northeast." 1

Day Two:

"Start at Main and Maple in town.

Go east one block;

north one block;

west one block;

south two blocks;

and east one block."2

Day Three:

"Go south one mile.

Go east one-half mile." 3

Day Four:

"Start where you were and do it again." 4

After following the puzzle's instructions, and recording their maps accordingly, students attempt to solve the puzzle to find the location of the big surprise.


Each group of students, after reviewing their work, convene and discuss their answers to the puzzle and write a report of their results with an explanation of how they found the answer.

Online Lesson Plans: Detective Games


After spending a good deal of time reading detective stories and answering puzzles in the classroom, students can experience mysteries in other locations and use other resources to do detective work.


Students gain skills in the following areas:

- Navigate the World Wide Web for websites pertaining to detective fiction.
- Read the newspaper in order to solve the puzzle.
- Use resources to find answers that are not readily available.
- Correspond with others playing the game.
- Accomplish a task independently.

The Lesson:

This web site may be found at: http://www.4kids.org/detectives/

How do I become a 4Kids Detective?

To play the 4kids Detective game you will need this week's issue of www.4kids.org that appears in a newspaper (in Connecticut, there are these newspapers which carry the latest issue: Bristol Press, Connecticut Post, Danbury News Times, Manchester Journal Inquirer, Middletown Press, New Britain Herald).

To find the answers to the 4kids Detective's questions you will have to try and figure out which of the Web sites mentioned in the entire www.4kids.org issue might contain the answer. Then go to that Web site and find the answer. Each question is carefully worded to give you a clue about where to find it on the Web site. When you know all three answers, come back here and answer the questions below. An unanswered question is considered wrong. If all of your answers are correct, you can list your name as 4Kids Detectives of the Week. Good luck.

1. When did Peter the Great rule Russia?

2. What are the 2 main types of African rock art?

paintings and engravings
paintings and sculptures
engravings and sculptures
3. Fact or Fiction: The Galapagos Islands have never been connected to a continent.


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A Culminating Activity: The Interactive Detective Play

After a large collection of cases has been studied, the class will choose those stories from which a larger play can be made. It is possible for the students to create a detective play in which the detective or detectives can solve different types of cases in several scenes. The play as a whole may have a central theme that can unite the cases and contain a message that an audience will have to figure out.

I have an idea that deals with using the audience as a cast member in a play that we create. In other words, the class presents a detective play and presents clues to each case in a number of scenes acted out in front of a small audience. The audience will attend the performance having prepared to solve the cases beforehand, and will have materials available to help them figure them out. In a manner of speaking then, the audience will take an active role in the play by being the detective, and will attempt to solve each case when called upon in the course of each scene. A lot of what went on in the classroom lesson plans, where students were supplied with art materials and gathered information, will essentially go on in this performance as well.

Experimenting in the class by rehearsing the stories will give the teacher a better idea of what will actually happen during a performance, and after the stories are acted out and the rough spots smoothened out, a better result will begin to take shape. The main idea is to get the audience involved early in the event, so it will be imperative to watch and listen from the moment the play begins, and pay close attention right up until it's final scene. Attention to detail, a good attitude and proper behavior will be important needs in being able to correctly solve the problems created in the play.

From Lesson Plans to Research:

Why Study Interactivity and a History of the Audience?

The culminating activity described previously, a detective play, will rely heavily on the use of the audience as a cast member (detective) in order to complete (or solve) the play (case). If the detective does not interact with what is presented to him, then very little work can be done toward solving the case. Watching and listening, two important tools of learning, must be utilized by the audience in order to interact correctly, and by working on strengthening these skills, the unit can achieve its work towards making students better audience members. This action will attempt to improve on the behavior young people have at public performances of events, and in effect can improve cultural aesthetics as we know it.

To properly understand the concept of interactivity it becomes important to study historical aspects of groups of people (not just theatergoers) who attend artistic events. These audiences will be comprised of the many groups of people who experience artistic events like art shows at art galleries, dance recitals in dance halls, musical concerts in arenas, and even movies in movie theaters. Historical references will be made to determine what each group's needs were in order to satisfactorily be entertained during the course of different cultures.

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Part 2: Studying the History of Audiences

Ancient Cultures

Roman audiences had a great need for visual excitement, and the need to be entertained was more important than any intellectual stimulation a performance would present. Feeding Christians to lions and chariot races were popular events, and many Roman dramas included dreadfully bloody scenes.

Other types of audiences, like those of Commedia dell 'Arte plays, depended on improvised accounts of events that were really going on in the community, and often included the names of real people in town. By researching the characteristics of audiences through the ages, a picture of what attracts our audience may help determine the types of drama that work well in today's theaters.

The theatre of the French Revolution has interested historians more than the theater of other periods because of its political make up. According to Emmet Kennedy, in his "History of the Problem and the Method of Solving It" (a most detective-like title if there was one), it bears noting how plays were produced for other reasons than for merely entertainment. "Although a good up-to-date political history of this theater remains to be written, it appears appropriate to us to question the extent to which political drama permeated the stage between 1789 and 1799." 5 Kennedy also writes that many playwrights of the era "have all supposed that this theater was essentially revolutionary; that it became a political club, a school of good citizenship and republican mores, a tribune, a mirror of the assemblies and popular societies, an organ of 'pure propaganda', or a reflection of the class struggle." 6

Victorian theater of the late 19th century, particularly Edwardian dramas, used a psychological approach drawn from neoclassicism and ultimately, Aristotle. In this type of theater, social conventions were an essential foundation for personality, and many of the works contained characters that were clearly defined as "good" or "bad". Fred Matthews, in "The New Psychology and American Drama" states that "Theater was more than entertainment; it was a means of socializing and maintaining socialization, and a potent one just because it entailed intense emotional expression and confrontation." 7 He continues in his essay to write how there was a sensed danger in the new cleverness of social comedy which began to appear in early twentieth century plays.

At the start of the twentieth century, observers worried about the commentaries about the moral code in many new dramas, particularly those being performed at the Provincetown Playhouse. Considered to be avante garde, this theater produced experimental psychological plays, and writers like Belasco and O'Neill would gain great fame from having their works produced there. Matthews writes: "The self-consciously young intellectuals in Chicago, Greenwich Village and Provincetown insisted on the truth and reality of immediate human feelings against the crushing demand that they be subordinated to such abstract ideals as social stability." 8 Such revolutionary plays by these new writers were influenced by the ideas of psychologists Freud and Jung, and later towards Nietzsche, and as audiences experienced the abandonment of classical formalism a new age of Modernism emerged. Focused on the breakup of social conventions, the new theater audience sought newer, more self-consciously based plays, which emphasized individual standards and personal ideologies.

20th Century Criticism

In his essay "An Audience of Critics and the Lost Art of Seeing Plays", Theodore Hoffman reports on the problems of the theater in the 1950's. This time period was considered a golden age of Broadway Theater, and even then critics predicted the demise of the live theater and the eventual take over of television and movies. Little did they know that to add to all of these would come the age of the computer and the Internet. Mass media even then was infiltrating popular culture, and as a result, more people preferred to turn on their TV's, unknowingly isolating themselves into the confines of the living room. As fewer people went to see classic plays produced on live stages, they were swept into reading the famous scripts of the great playwrights, and were mesmerized by the great dramatic works as literature.

This tendency to admire works by the great artists like Shakespeare through the written pages became a dangerous practice, for it weakened the audience's aesthetic sense of live performances in the theater. Hoffman called this appreciation of theater as literature a picture of "an audience of critics which, when it goes to the theater, converts what its sees into a series of printed pages." 9 He goes on to say that the picture is of a cultural situation at a certain point of time, and he answers how we got that way by explaining that in the last quarter of the nineteenth century great acting enhanced the writing of plays. "The actors of that age brought a talent to plays that often elevated them on the stage to a degree of meaning and beauty that the plays did not (and do not) possess on paper."10 The audiences of this time then, saw the play not in terms of its text, but in the production of it.

As directors and producers became forces in the theater, playwrights spent less time with actors and more time apart from the working ensemble. As this separation grew, plays became more literal and much less theatrical. Playwrights would not be able to change their scripts as they rehearsed what was on stage, and oftentimes they had to envision what feelings their words would convey without the use of experimenting with them at rehearsals. The more plays a writer would be commissioned to write, the less chances he would have to try them out on actors, and eventually the plays were distanced indeed from the cast of actors that were called on to play the parts.

Hoffman believes, then, that theater exists as a means to attempt a sort of "imitation" of the text. "One must add to the text a knowledge of how the theater worked when the play was written and a live understanding of the creative techniques which cause a play to exist as a work of art."11 He explains that the stage directions, published within the text of many plays, give the illusion that only one possible authentic production exists, and that readers should accept this as the definitive work. However, a majority of stage directions are created by the stage manager and director of the original production, not the playwright, and what the audience reads as gospel truth is merely a textual reference of the first theater company's staging of the play. He calls for experimentation, and urges playwrights to work in repertory companies as European playwrights do, so they can write in more theatrical terms, not literary ones.

Robert Corrigan, in his "Theater in Search of a Fix", applauds the Absurdist writers for their reaction against naturalism by emphasizing that content of a play lies in action, and not in words. He credits Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco for discarding language altogether, and believes in the need to revitalize the dramatic language of the theater, but not to abandon it altogether. "But more important than this is the audience's loss of imaginative power, its inclination not so much to share in a dramatic experience as to have it served up as diversion. The consequence of this dulling effect is that more and more of our audiences find it difficult to comprehend anything but the most colloquial and explicit dialogue. They tend to reject anything that demands an active effort or response. One reason for this, I suppose, is that the language of visual images is easier to assimilate but more equivocal than that of words."12 In this last statement, Corrigan explains how mere cliches of gestures or fadeouts to end a scene are substitutions for any real artistic solutions which writers neglect to include in their works.

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Part 3: Interactivity

In his book, Interactive Excellence, Edwin Schlossberg writes that as artists created new works of art, they were forced to teach the audience how to use and enjoy them. Comparing an artist's product to an inventor's, the author comments that oftentimes the creation comes before any need or use for it. Alexander Graham Bell needed to create an audience for his inventions, so he searched for a way to sell his concept to an audience. He strung a telephone line from New York City to Philadelphia, put telephones at a performance of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and broadcast the concert through his new invention. He tried to make the medium of the telephone an extension of the theater.

At that time the audience had not learned to value immediate contact with distant people. It was unimportant for people to communicate with anyone outside of their immediate locale, and so the telephone had very little purpose in anyone's daily life. Not enough people could imagine the need for an instrument of communication nor comprehend its place in daily life. It took the acceleration of events-- the introduction of electricity in homes and the affordable automobile-- to create a context in which people thought immediate conversations would be useful.

____It can be said that even today, audiences are slow to change with the introduction of any new technology. "Educating the audience to fully use and appreciate new technology is often the last thing inventors consider. Even being aware that an education process is needed is usually not in inventors' minds as they rush to share their new creations."13 Schlossberg states in his book that he believes an audience needs to have a purpose for what is presented to them, otherwise the production of new creations will not become part of any popular culture.

Consider the playwright Arthur Miller's statement on popular acceptance of art: "I think it is true to say that for the most part as a nation we do not understand, we do not see that art, our culture itself, is a very sinew of the life we lead. Truly, we have no consciousness of art even as it has changed our tastes in furniture, in the houses we buy, in the cars we want. Only when it is transformed into things of daily use have we the least awareness of its vital functioning among us, and then it is only as its by-products appear in the most plain aspects of its usefulness. As an example, even while abstract art is gazed at without comprehension, if not with hatred, its impact upon our linoleum designs, our upholsteries, our drapes, our women's dresses, our buildings, our packages, our advertising-- these uses or misuses are quickly accepted without a thought.14 "The Playwright and the Atomic World" Written in the late 1950's, Miller's apprehensive look at popular culture is not unlike those of the critics of the 1990's.

So how then does a great culture recognize great works of art? How can a new movement of art or a unique style of music or new fashion of design become accepted into people's aesthetic sense of art before it becomes entrenched into the more profitable commercial designs of the products they own? In order to realize the answer to these questions, we must understand that culture is created by the relationship of audience and performance, and that excellence often proceeds popularity.

A small audience, one that is contemporary with the creation of the cultural work or artifact often defines excellence, and this new work slowly becomes popular as it is advertised or reviewed. Once on display, word of mouth and reliable reviews attract more people to experience it in performance. Today, a vast network of artists and producers creates excellence, all of them people who operate the media in some way, to an audience that is truly gigantic. Without ever having to leave one's home, audience members are able to create excellence by accessing cultural events by watching TV, listening to the radio, or logging onto the Internet. Electronic neighborhoods, forums in which a large number of individuals can meet at once on TV shows or on their computers, express their views and shape excellence from their easy chairs, never once needing to pay a ticket price or getting reservations to witness anything at all.

The growing number of books, newspapers, magazines, radio stations, television and cable stations and websites have made the need to go out to learn and explore less desirable. Live performances of artistic events, while consistently produced, have suffered from lack of viewers, and they can hardly compete with the domestic comfort of home events. The growing isolation of the audience, a phenomenon in which individuals witness artistic events by themselves or in small groups (like their families), is having an impact on our social climate and is changing popular culture in ways which even experts may not accurately be able to report.

An accurate view of culture must come from people sharing their views about events with each other, by experiencing events together, and interacting to a certain degree with what they experienced. The failure to meet in larger venues hampers the assessment of particular events, and a clear picture of what is good and bad gets clouded. Fads become the rule these days it seems, for a style or fashion can not last long enough or be experienced by a large enough demographic group for anything to last long enough to be widely acknowledged.

As a result of the isolated experiences of cultural events at home, there is hunger for community. Public events have now become opportunities for people to learn from each other as well as from the performance. The need to express one's feelings or respond toward what is viewed seems more evident in today's movie theaters than it ever has before. No longer can we sit silently during a two-hour motion picture, but we have to hear the vocal remarks and utterances of audience members who feel the need to interact and disrupt our passive viewing of a cinematic event.

The vital need to interact in a public theater, just like the responses that one feels must be made while viewing TV at home, have become more common occurrences than ever before. Attention spans seem much shorter, and one's need to break the silent monotony of an enjoyable film must be done by sharp-witted jokes or remarks, which break the concentrated flow of the story being watched. The need to get a drink, buy some popcorn, make a phone call, or go to the restroom is an ever growing tendency in today's movie- going experience. This is caused, it seems, from the habits created at home when commercials come on the air, or the "pause" button is pressed, halting the playing of the rented video so that people can attend to other personal needs.

If the experience at a public event does not enable audience members to learn from one another-- if each member of society is isolated because they are getting most cultural events at home-- then there are no opportunities for audiences to improve their ability to appreciate one another, as well as the works presented. For this reason, Schlossberg believes that "audiences are not getting better as audiences."15 One possible explanation for this changing behavior rests in the need to recognize that the context of the relationship between audience and performance has altered, and one's own home has taken the place of the concert hall or public auditorium.

Communications technology, such as the telephone, has historically connected one person with another. Now with television and the Internet, one person can talk to literally millions of others. This change of context has affected the way we communicate with one another, and because of this, the presentation and style of communication have also changed. In the past, someone giving a public address would affect many people in a public square or auditorium. His voice would be expressively loud and emphatic, trying to reach the many listeners who gathered there to hear him talk. The audience sensed how effective the address was by experiencing the crowd's response to it. Now, alone in the living room or study, one can't know if what was said affected only oneself or was moving to many. An audience which senses another's presence while experiencing a live event, or talking to one another during an event about what is being seen, is to a degree an interactive experience.

While software companies and Internet providers promote new and exciting (and costly) interactive programs, and we see children playing their interactive games on the Internet, online interactivity is still an isolated activity, for the consumer playing at home is still alone. Although he may be playing with many people from all over the planet, he still is alone in his comfortable environment, where he is in control of the event.

The greater need for interactivity needs to be shared in public venues where many people may reflect and react to what they are experiencing. This type of public interactivity strengthens our culture in the arts, while computer interactivity merely changes the way we classify it.

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Appendix of Useful Websites

Web sites on Detective Fiction:




Web sites on Interactive Theater:






Web sites on the History of Audiences, Cultures and Aesthetics:





REED is an international scholarly project that is establishing for the first time the broad context from which the great drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries grew. REED examines the historical MSS that provide external evidence of drama, secular music, and other communal entertainment and ceremony from the Middle Ages until 1642, when the Puritans closed the London theatres.


The purpose of this project is to show the highlights of different periods of theatre history, including plays, acting styles, staging conventions, costuming, and playwrights. Web links have been provided so students can find additional information on items of interest. Researched and written by G. Andrew Roberts.


The East End London Theatre Audience

Twentieth Century Views of London's East End Theatre Audiences

General information on audiences has been summarized from:

- Ernest Watson's "Sheridan to Robertson, a Study of the Nineteenth-Century London Stage" (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1926,)
- "The Command of Audiences" (1926)
- Erroll Sherson's "London's Lost Theatres of the Nineteenth Century, with Notes on Plays and Players Seen There" (London: John Lane, n.d. First published in 1925,)
- "Audiences of the Past and Audiences of the Present." Contrasting Views from the Nineteenth Century &
- #61623; Sir Walter Besant's "At the Play and the Show," on the evolution of London theatrical audiences in general up to 1888
- #61623; Flora Tristan (1803-1884, French sociologist and feminist) London Journal (1840) on mid-nineteenth century London theatre (including plagiarism, social content of plays, audience make-up etc.)
End Notes
1 Sukach, Jim "Maps and Treats", Great Quicksolve Whodunit Puzzles, New York, Sterling Publishing Co., 1998 (8)

2 Sukach (9-10)

3 Sukach (10)

4 Sukach (11)

5 Kennedy, Emmet ed. Theatre, Opera and Audiences in Revolutionary Paris: Analysis and Repertory, Westport, Greenwood Press, 1996 (1)

6 Kennedy (1)

7 Matthews, Fred "The New Psychology and American Drama" Heller and Rudnick Ed., 1915, The Cultural Movement, New Brunswick, Rutgers University Press, 1991 (147)

8 Matthews (148)

9 Hoffman, Theodore "An Audience of Critics and the Lost Art of Seeing Plays", Corrigan, Robert W. ed. Theatre in the Twentieth Century New York Grove Press, 1963 (177)

10 Hoffman (178)

11 Hoffman (179)

12 Corrigan, Robert "Theater in Search of a Fix", Corrigan, Robert W. ed. Theatre In the Twentieth Century New York Grove Press, 1963 (23)

13 Schlossberg, Edwin Interactive Excellence: Defining and Developing New Standards for the Twenty-first Century, New York, Ballantine Publishing Group, 1998 (3)

14 Miller, Arthur "The Playwright and the Atomic World", Corrigan, Robert W. Ed. Theatre in the Twentieth Century New York Grove Press, 1963 (35)

15 Schlossberg (18)

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Teacher's Bibliography (Annotated)

Corrigan, Robert "Theater in Search of a Fix", Corrigan, Robert W. ed. Theatre In the Twentieth Century New York Grove Press, 1963

An essay which addresses the need for playwrights to "fix" the problems of the theater by revitalizing the language in it, thereby making the texts more theatrical than literary in their content.

Hoffman, Theodore "An Audience of Critics and the Lost Art of Seeing Plays", Corrigan, Robert W. ed. Theatre in the Twentieth Century New York Grove Press, 1963

An essay which describes how modern audiences have changed the way they see plays, and have become more critical of works.

Kennedy, Emmet ed. Theatre, Opera and Audiences in Revolutionary Paris: Analysis and Repertory, Westport, Greenwood Press, 1996

A book which gives details about audiences during the late 18th century Paris.

Matthews, Fred "The New Psychology and American Drama" Heller and Rudnick Ed., 1915, The Cultural Movement, New Brunswick, Rutgers University Press, 1991

A fascinating essay describing the Modern Era and it's acceptance of psychological works by new playwrights.

Miller, Arthur "The Playwright and the Atomic World", Corrigan, Robert W. Ed. Theatre in the Twentieth Century New York Grove Press, 1963

The famous playwright describes how a new American Drama has been born, and differentiates between Europe and the USA. His remarks deal with 1950's audiences and their hunger for commercialism and profitability in an atomic age.

Schlossberg, Edwin Interactive Excellence: Defining and Developing New Standards for the Twenty-first Century, New York, Ballantine Publishing Group, 1998

A fascinating book which studies the role of the audience in popular culture. It emphasizes the need to understand past audiences and culture in order to look forward to the future century.

School, DJ "The Case of the Dentist's Patient", Two-Minute Mysteries Forum: a journal for the teacher of English outside the United States Washington, D.C. United States Information Agency : Supt. of Docs., U.S. GPO, distributor, 1982

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A short detective mystery for classroom use.

Sukach, Jim "Maps and Treats", Great Quicksolve Whodunit Puzzles, New York, Sterling Publishing Co., 1998

One of many short detective puzzles, the book uses Dr JL Quicksolve and his son Jr. to solve a number of different types of cases. Each puzzle asks a different question for students to solve, and has answers in the back.

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Student's Bibliography

School, DJ "The Case of the Dentist's Patient", Two-Minute Mysteries Forum: a journal for the teacher of English outside the United States Washington, D.C. United States Information Agency : Supt. of Docs., U.S. GPO, distributor, 1982

A short detective mystery for classroom use.

Sukach, Jim "Maps and Treats", Great Quicksolve Whodunit Puzzles, New York, Sterling Publishing Co., 1998

One of many short detective puzzles, the book uses Dr JL Quicksolve and his son Jr. to solve a number of different types of cases. Each puzzle asks a different question for students to solve, and has answers in the back.

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Classroom Materials

In order for the lessons to be successful, students need to have a large supply of art materials. Markers, pencils, rulers, different types of paper (graph, lined composition, and colored construction), paint and brushes. Also helpful in the classroom are compasses and scale rules, but these are optional materials.

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