The Theatre of Customer Experience

by Jason Dabrowski

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Stage Manager Tina Frey gets the audience ready
Stage Manager Tina Frey gets the audience ready

Guest Post by Jason Dabrowski

As a theatrical professional, people often marvel at how a degree in theatre can be at all useful in the real world. The entire theatrical experience revolves around the audience. After all, we love what we do but we’d be nowhere without ticket purchases.

Theatre is all about customer experience.

The Audience

From the moment you walk into a theater, everything you encounter from start to finish is all about you. The doors open early so that you have time to go to the bathroom, find your seat, get refreshments and even look over the program that highlights all the people who came together to bring this experience to you. If you bought a ticket and you’re running late, they will often hold off on starting the play for a few minutes just for you (please don’t be late, not everyone does this)
During rehearsals, directors will sit in various seats through the theatre to make sure you can see the action on stage without an actor, a costume piece, or a piece of furniture getting in your line of sight.


For those not in the know, “blocking” is where the actors stand, move across the stage, stand still or sit down. Whether you have a director who organically lets her actors figure it out, or a more strategic director who has planned every movement, it’s all about the audience. Is someone else blocking the audience’s view of the actor who’s having a meltdown? Are the two actors having a fight center stage giving a good view to the people on the ends of the aisle, or do they need to both turn their heads slightly to give a better view?

Set Design

Part of the purpose of the set is to create a realistic or purposefully not realistic environment in order to showcase the story. While a set might be impressive, they generally do their job best when they don’t draw attention away from the actors on stage.


Lighting illuminates the actors so you can see our pretty faces when we talk to you. But it also helps an audience by establishing time of day, location, mood, and even if what we’re seeing is supposed to be a real event, a flashback, or the dreams or imagination of one of the characters. It directs the audience where to look at and what NOT to look at during any given moment. The woman in the spotlight is where your focus should be instead of the villain sneaking down the stairs. If the set, lights and actors work in harmony, the audience can focus on the story and enjoy the events unfolding right in front of them.

What story is your customer experience delivering?

  • Are your people facing your customer and giving them a genuine experience? Is your set – whether that’s your brick & mortar store, your office, or your website – drawing more attention to itself than the story?
  • Is your web design like bad lighting by pointing your customers at unimportant things, setting the wrong mood, or making it hard to capture your product or message?
  • Are your sales reps like bad actors, upstaging each other and drawing focus away from the most important person in the room: the client?

Finally, have you sat in every seat of the customer experience?

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