Welcome to the Centre for Spectatorship and Audience Research

We are an interdisciplinary group of scholars, researchers, and artists who discuss and create work that explores the fields of spectatorship and audience research. Our members come from the fields of museum studies, visual art, psychology, education, film, video games, in addition to drama, theatre, and performance studies. We are always open to new members, even if you are unable to attend our regular meetings, and would be happy to hear from you.

We would like to thank the Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto, the University of Toronto Scarborough, the Canadian Association for Theatre Research, and the Jackman Humanities Institute for their support, which has enabled us to produce keynote addresses from Janelle Reinelt, Helen Freshwater, and Matt Omasta, as well as host a full day symposium at the University of Toronto in May 2019 entitled “Emerging Emancipation,” an Audience Methods Luncheon and Roundtable in October 2019, and a monthly working group since 2016.

We also recently published a special issue of Performance Matters on 21st-Century Spectatorship.

Our most recent events, publications, and activities may be found here

Mission and Values


The Centre for Spectatorship and Audience Research promotes the investigation of the psychology, phenomenology, and position of spectatorship in theatre.

Despite a recent resurgence, the study of spectatorship and reception in theatre and performance studies lags behind disciplines such as film, museum studies, and computer science (Freshwater, 2009; Park-Fuller, 2003, Reinelt 2014). CSAR fills this gap by providing opportunities for scholars, artists, and organizations to share their ideas about the experience of theare-going and how audience research might be conducted. These critical conversations lay the foundation for the new work we publish, the research we conduct, the projects we facilitate, and the scholarship and training we promote. Our ongoing desire is to push the boundaries of knowledge-building about who theatre audiences are and how they make sense of their theatrical encounters. Though our focus is in theatre and performance studies, we believe strongly in interdisciplinarity and welcome scholars from museum studies, education, film, video game studies, visual arts, communications, cultural studies and beyond.


  • We produce and promote useful scholarship and scholarly conversations that students, arts organizations, and scholars can trust to be reliable, clear, and of high international calibre.
  • We embrace an ambitious curiosity that discovers and engages new knowledges and ways of knowing as they pertain to audience and spectatorship studies.
  • We appreciate the partial and subjective nature of all pursuits of knowledge and therefore actively foster collaboration between a diversity of experiences, strengths, perspectives, and passions in order to multiply the breadth and depth of our discoveries.
  • We anchor our work in an ethical commitment to the critical voice of the spectator within audience. This is central to the rigour and diversity we apply to our epistemologies.
  • We cultivate and advocate for audience studies by representing the field at conferences and symposia and by agitating for the inclusion of audience voices and questions in theatre research.

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