An audience is a group of people who participate in a show or encounter a work of art, literature, theatre, music or academics in any medium. Audience members participate in different ways in different kinds of art; some events invite overt audience participation and others allowing only modest clapping and criticism and reception.
Some more advanced audience participation is most commonly found in performances which break the fourth wall. Examples include the traditional British Pantomimes, Stand Up Comedy and creative stage shows such as Blue Man Group.
One of the most well-known examples of popular audience participation is the motion picture The Rocky Horror Picture Show and its earlier stage incarnation The Rocky Horror Show. The audience participation elements are often seen as the most important part of the picture, to the extent that the audio options on the DVD version include the option of callbacks being included in the audio.
Another example is the theatrical adventure called Tamara, set in post-World War II Italy. In Tamara, audience members trailed cast members around many rooms in a Victorian house, seeing only a portion of the show each time they attended. Tamara launched a new level of audience participation.
In the musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee audience members are invited to be guest spellers onstage during the show.
One of the earliest and most famous examples of audience participation in music was Queen's "We Will Rock You" in 1977, when Freddie Mercury and Brian May thought it would be an interesting experiment to write songs with audience participation specifically in mind.
Now murder mysteries and interactive comedies like Tony and Tina's Wedding have extended audience participation even further. Members of the audience are cast as members of the fictional family or as suspects in the mystery. Audience members may engage in conversation with the cast, breaking the fourth wall entirely. They may be encouraged to dance with members of the cast, or to step into roles of missing performers. One purpose of this twist to such productions is to force the performers to improvise on the spot, which of course is part of the entertainment.
Another murder mystery is "The Mystery of Edwin Drood", a Broadway musical. In it, the audience must vote for who they think the murderer is, as well as the real identity of the detective and the couple who end up together.
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