Creating A New Audience: an Open Letter by Jay Briggs

jaybriggs.jpgIn celebration of our 30th anniversary, Jay Briggs, Theatre for a New Audience alumnus, writes about creating a new audience.

The task of creating theatre for a new audience is two-fold. The obvious aspect is increased accessibility, a goal that Theatre for a New Audience fulfills through its education residencies in public schools as well as the New Deal ticket program. Yet, I believe the company’s name stems from an even larger vision.

I recently had the opportunity to observe Dominique Serrand, former Co-Artistic Director of Theatre de la Jeune Lune, work with a group of young actors. He spoke about the responsibility of our generation of theatre artists to pass beyond an understanding of the rules established by our predecessors. He charged us to stretch those boundaries and to challenge audiences’ expectations. For me, this idea crystallized the mission of Theatre for a New Audience.

Cultivating a new audience is more than bringing new people to the theatre; it’s also training the existing audience not to rely on an understanding of theatrical conventions but to demand brutal honesty in expression. It’s a philosophy I began to understand during my time at Theatre for a New Audience and one that will continue to propel my artistic endeavors.

Jay currently serves as Directing Intern at the Actors Theatre of Louisville.