Let me explain: each audience has an identity. It is up to each of those positions, but predominantly the actors, to figure out exactly what it is, so that collectively they can deliver the best possible performance. Frequently, this happens before the play even goes on stage, but in the case of the cycle plays, it changes each time the play travels. For example, you could have a very young audience that is very attentive in York, but then have a group in a that is more interested in the drink being served.
In Joseph's Trouble About Mary, there is practically no stage direction. We talked a lot about that in class and it surprised me that there wasn't more. As I thought about it more, it made sense that there was very little. It gave the actors across England to be more creative and take license without offending a playwright (or its ghost for that matter). This also gives them the flexibility to improvise when it comes to actions and movements on stage.
While Joseph's Cycle play doesn't have audience interaction built into it, Noah's cycle play does. On p. 33, line 210, Noah's wife talks directly to the audience, about marriage and how she can do things that she doesn't want to for her her husband, but will make him pay later. That interaction breaks the metaphorical "4th wall" on stage, bringing the audience into the play. It also gives the opportunity for the actors to gauge what the audience thinks is funny or not and then they can make adjustments if need be.
One thing I thought was funny was the introduction of Abraham's cycle play. It was almost like a town crier was announcing the play. He even admitted his name and, "With you I may no longer beene. Farewell my lordinges, all bydene for lettynge of your plays." None of the other cycle plays that we've read had this introduction. It reminded me of the narrator in the movie Ella Enchanted, a pretty brutal modern day depiction of medieval life.
While audiences influence plays as they are happening, they also influence them beforehand. Fr. Pillarz touched on this in I Have Our Help Here in My Arms with families and then Corpus Christi. Audiences are made up people, obviously, but people everywhere help form implicit norms, which make their way into plays, musicals, dramas and many other works of art.
As crucial as audiences are to a positive theatrical experience, they are also instrumental in the theatrical formation experience. Think about that the next time you catch a play.