Codependency in Theatre

austin nunnYou’ve bought tickets to our shows and sat in our audience, but WHO are our Vanguard University Theater students? Let us introduce you –

Austin Mark Nunn
Theater Performance/Directing major
Department of Theater Student Representative
Hometown: Grass Valley, California

You’ve seen him on the Lyceum Theater stage for – Oedipus Rex,
Legally Blonde, The Beat Goes On (both times), and
Kiss me, Kate!


Codependency in the theatre I love being a theatre major. Everyday is a new experience and an opportunity to learn. Choosing this degree is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I always loved theatre growing up. I loved the ideas of a bunch of hard working people working together to create a spectacle. Since being at Vanguard I have been blessed to be in multiple productions as well as work heavily on productions. One thing I have learned from performing is that an audience can make or break a show. As an actor my goal is to give my best to my audience every single performance. Within the first 10 minutes of a show the cast can tell what kind of audience they will have. I like to think there are three basic types of audiences. The first being the fascinated audience, then we have the amused audience, and the unfortunate bored out of their mind audience.

The fascinated audience. There is nothing more enjoyable as a cast member then this kind of audience. When an audience laughs or giggles or applauds it fuels the energy of the actors and makes the show fun not only for the audience but for the crew and the cast as well. I can remember the first time I performed in The Beat Goes On and our audience was amazing. We had gotten to the song right before the intermission and the crowd was already on our side. We start the song ‘Dancing in the Street” and the crowd starts getting into it. Next thing we know they are cheering and applauding mid song. I can honestly say I have never had such an exhilarating experience performing as that one. The crowd fueled us which gave us extra power to make the number the best it could be.

The second audience is the amused audience. This crowd will laugh and giggle on occasion but not consistently. They often seem to feel as though they have to have a good time so they will clap or chuckle almost out of pity or guilt. They came to have a good time and will force it no matter what. Now I’m not saying that they all force it or they aren’t having a good time but rather they are there and present and that’s about it. They love the show and think it’s great but yet they don’t show it. The audience isn’t bad but is doesn’t help give the cast the extra kick they might need. The cast will still perform to the best of their ability but the higher the audience energy the stronger the cast adrenaline will be.

Lastly we have the bored out of their mind audience. This audience is something special. They stare and glare and sometimes even boo. Just kidding. But sometimes as an actor it feels like it. If you have ever seen one of those classic cartoons where someone performs and then everyone throws tomatoes at them to get them off the stage, then you can sympathy with actors in this scenario. When an audience doesn’t feel or like a show it can bring low energy to the cast. When you deliver a line and you feel like you can hear crickets in the background there is nothing that you wanna do more than to crawl in a hole and hide. Sometimes you wanna look at the audience and apologize for the pain you are causing them. But yet it is your job as an actor to make it the same every time. Sh how do you do this when the audience wants to throw knives at you? Well I have two ways to fix the agonizing death that has come upon you from the audience. The first is to look at it as a challenge. Your audience is a harsh critic and they don’t want to leave so the game is to give them the best performance you can in order to change their mind, enjoy himself a little more, and dare I say it, smile. If this doesn’t work there’s a different way to try to keep the cast energy up. When I can’t get excitement for the audience I play off of my other cast mates. I try and discover new things about our characters’ relationship and also discover new ways that my character can respond. One show I was in the audience stared at us the whole time. Never smiling, never clapping, and they looked bored out of their minds. So I started searching out different possibilities for my character on stage. Some of the changes I made stayed for the rest of the run of the show. Even though this audience wasn’t the best, the cast pulled through to make sure that the show was brought to justice.

In the end I would give a suggestion to you as an audience member. If you see a show give yourself the benefits of smiling. Enjoy yourself and let it show. Trust me, your cast will thank you and the show you see will be a fantastic one.

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