Audience gestures and horizon of expectations in Israeli theatre

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Dennis Kennedy deals with the issue of constructing spectators’ subjectivity, suggesting the term ‘audience gestures’ to explain the complicated behaviour of spectators and focusing on the active bodily dimension of reception (e.g., applause, cheering, booing, hissing). In his view, audience gestures construct the subjectivity of the spectators in terms of social and cultural identities, though they depend on the ‘horizon of expectations’–the sociopolitical, cultural and aesthetical baggage of the audience. In contrast, this article argues that it is the performance that mostly directs and even programmes audience gestures, which in turn construct the spectators’ subjectivity or identity. By way of exemplifying how the ‘horizon of expectations’ directs the ‘audience gestures,’ this article will discuss audience behaviour in two Israeli theatrical productions–one dealing with secular Jewish identity, the other with Mizrhai ethnic identity–in terms of constructed social identities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-181
Number of pages15
JournalIsrael Affairs
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • audience gesture
  • horizon of expectation
  • Israeli Theatre
  • Jewish theatre
  • Mizrahi identity
  • reception

RAMBI publications

  • Gesture -- Social aspects
  • Theater audiences -- Israel
  • Theater -- Israel


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