Audience: The magical theatrical ingredient

August 3, 2017

by Kiana Woo, Artist & Fringe Summer Staff

Fringing since 2013

I’ve fostered a deep love for theatre for as long as I can remember. I love the thrill of seeing a show live and knowing literally anything can happen. I love sitting so close to the stage that you can see a bead of sweat trickle down an actor’s cheek.

With such a strong passion for theatre it was no surprise that eventually I transitioned from audience member to artist. I’ve been preforming in some capacity since I was quite young. First as a dancer, and as I became enchanted with the idea of storytelling, as an actor.


When I was 17, I played Peaseblossom the fairy in a community production of Midsummer Night’s Dream and that was one of the experiences that solidified my decision to pursue acting as a career. It was my first production that wasn’t school related and I was the only high school student in the cast. It felt very official.

One night standing back stage listening to the announcer read out the “thank you” show list, I heard them go off script and say, “Who in the audience is here to see Kiana Woo?” In seconds the house was filled with cheers and applause from parents and friends who’d came that night. My heart started beating a little faster than usual, and a huge smile spread across my face – that feeling got me hooked on performance theatre, and I haven’t turned back since.

I moved to Edmonton five years ago to study Drama and Performance at the University of Alberta. Now, as I head into my final year, that feeling that got me hooked hasn’t changed. There is an unmatchable thrill that courses through you when you’re performing live, and it’s largely fueled by the audience.

The audience helps inspire and motivate me to create. When I’m preforming live, I can hear them catch their breath, laugh, or cry. And in those moments, I’m sharing something with them. It is that connection, that energy that only an audience can bring to the theatre. And it is so important.

After grueling late nights during rehearsals and tech, when all your lines seem stale and everything feels blaze, it’s the audience that shocks the life back into the show. As soon as an audience is watching the show, the cast comes alive again.

Each audience is different, and each have a unique response to the show. It’s one of the reasons I love theatre so much. You can perform the same show for weeks and every performance will be different. And, when you’re lucky enough to be in a setting like the Fringe Festival, you can meet the audience!

Audiences have taught me so much. To learn what fascinated them, how they interpreted scenes, those conversations all inform my craft. Hearing how a show impacted them and having the opportunity to converse keeps that sense of community alive – and always reminds me why art is important.  

There is no better gift to give to an artist than an audience, especially those found at the Fringe Festival. They are among the most supportive audiences an artist can have – which is so important to helping us create new works.

If you can give an artist one gift this summer, give them your bum in a seat to their show. It’s the most vital and magical component needed to transform the stage into a journey.

See you in the audience!


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