Lynne Conner — Dionysus To The Apollo: On Life And Meaning

Lynne ConnerLynne Conner is professor of theater arts and chair of the Department of Theater at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is a theater and dance historian, cultural policy theorist and playwright. Lynne has written extensively on audience engagement and the creation of meaning in the arts, and has won numerous awards for her playwriting and directing. Her most recent book is Audience Engagement and the Role of Arts Talk in the Digital Era. Lynne’s most recent play, THE MOTHER, is a 2018 Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center National Playwright’s Conference Semi-finalist. Before joining the UNC Charlotte faculty in 2016, Lynne was professor and chair of the Theater and Dance Department at Colby College. She earned a B.A. in English Literature from Oberlin College, an M.A. in Theatre Arts from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and a Ph.D. in Theatre History and Performance Studies from the University of Pittsburgh.

This episode is perfect for anyone interested in audience engagement, the history of audience behavior, meaning making, theater, and interpretation of the arts.

In This Episode
In This Episode


  • Lynne describes her work as a cultural historian, playwright and professor.
  • She talks about applying the history of the arts to the practice of the arts.
  • She discusses the assertion that drives her scholarship.
  • She defines the terms social interpretation, arts experience and arts talk.
  • Lynne explains how audience behavior has changed over time.
  • She provides two reasons why audience behavior has changed.
  • She explains the consequence of quieted audiences.
  • She describes how the arts experience should be more like sports.
  • Lynne answers whether she would prefer active audiences during performances.
  • She addresses Miles Davis turning his back on the audience.
  • She explains the difference between linear and circular patterns of communication.
  • She notes criticism of white and black audience behavior.
  • Lynne addresses whether any work of art can be considered great if audiences are not actively interpreting art.
  • She considers whether the decline in audience interpretation makes art less meaningful.
  • She shares what arts organizations can do to help audiences make meaning.
  • She answers what was defining about her childhood.
  • Lynne explains why she is attracted to theater and how her scholarship evolved.
  • She talks about what meaning means.
  • She connects interpreting the arts to interpreting the meaning of our lives.

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