Document Type


Date of Original Version



Communication Studies


The arrival of the digital computer demanded a new spatial logic for performing arts ticketing. As late-20th-century box offices updated equipment, managers imagined a ticketing space that was open and airy, rather than closed and secure. Interactions between agents and audiences became collaborative, and ticket sales became central to marketing efforts. This article analyzes changes in the box office by historicizing the spaces of ticketing, drawing upon Bernhard Siegert’s notion of cultural techniques, reading a diagram from a 1993 ticketing guru’s book, and excavating archival and published materials bearing on performance spaces in Western Europe and North America. The article shows how technological, social, and political changes in the 1970s and ’80s led to a substantial shift in the interactions that inhabit paraperformative spaces. In a concluding gesture, the article shows that these changes are themselves transitory and have since been succeeded by the digital ticketing familiar to early-21st-century audiences.