audience etiquette rant
Posted 14 December 2003 - 02:24 PM
At a recent professional Nutcracker, we found ourselves seated next to a family including a baby-on-lap whose new vocabulary included the words "juice!" "crackers!" "up!" "down!" and "no!" all of which were proclaimed with regularity throughout the performance to the dismay of my adult daughter seated next to her. Additionally the mother would cover the baby's ears whenever my daughter applauded and glare at her.
At a recent musical theater production, -- great gift seats in the orchestra --- just before curtain, the people next to us arrive and ...... the woman next to me seemingly has bathed in perfume before leaving the house. I'm not exactly allergic, just sensitive enough to become nauseous and have a pins and needles sensation progress around my nose and lips ...... Seemingly nothing to do here but shallow-breathe through Act I and swap seats with my husband for Act II.
People who talk during over the overture or during the performance. This is the only one that seems to have an effective fix - the simple "how-dare-you glare."
The one where I surprised myself was when I attended a NYCB performance of Sleeping Beauty with my daughter and a friend some years ago. I was shocked when the much older woman seated next to me starting humming softly along with the score. However, I gave it a few minutes, and the fact was, that given that she was in tune AND she was obviously having such a darn good time, I thought - what the heck - and let her enjoyment be part of my enjoyment.
So - how do you deal with bad luck with your seat mates?
Posted 14 December 2003 - 03:06 PM
I went to a gala performance in which the party I was with were required to wear uniform, if they were entitled to them. So, I wore mine, complete with presentation sword, highly-polished boots, and all the medals. I clinked and clanked, but above all, there was THAT SWORD. Nobody bothered me.
Posted 14 December 2003 - 03:40 PM
But syr, I feel your pain. I've had some revolting behavior sitting either next to me or behind me. :green: In the case of a non-professional performance I've tried to control myself and tell myself that if so and so's little brother wants to pull his chewing gum out of his mouth by about two feet and then stuff the wad back in over and over and his father who is sitting on the other side of him doesn't care - neither do I and I block my vision with the program!
But if someone is kicking the back of my chair or talking right behind my ear - well, that's where I turn, and politely ask the mother or father if they could possibly put their offspring in handcuffs? :rolleyes:
It drives me crazy, I admit.
Posted 14 December 2003 - 04:03 PM
1) Audiences at Nutcracker performances are a thing unto themselves. One can only hope not to be seated next to a talky child.
2) There are some overture talkers for whom a glare doesn't work. We have found that simply saying "Please stop talking" works wonders--although a group of ladies of a certain age (actually pretty close to my age) once were behind us during a performance of the opera Carmen. They talked during the overture and tried to keep it up during the wonderful entr'acte divertissments. When my wife turned and asked them to keep quiet one of them (the spokesperson?) said "Oh, we never talk while they are singing".
3) Help can come from unexpected sources. Years ago we saw the National Ballet of Canada do Don Quixote with Karen Kain in Windsor, Ontario. The woman seated next to me was wearing a lot of bracelets on each arm and I resigned myself to listening to them go "clink/clank" during the performance. Which wasn't the case--not a clink was heard. However, the people immediately behind us were Karen Kain superfans. During her first entrance they started talking with each other about "Doesn't she look great?" -- "No, I think she is losing weight"-- etc.
I was too shocked to turn around, but didn't have to, since Ms. Bracelets pivoted in her seat and gave them a really terrifying SHUUSH!!--which kept everyone quiet.
4) Those who hum along with the music can be a real problem--perhaps moreso in opera than ballet, since so much of the standard rep in opera has been used in commercials, movie themes and cartoons that it is extremely familiar--and mellodically very rich, of course, which makes it easy and fun to hum. I have found that many of them are doing it unconsciously, which makes it really difficult to stop.
Posted 14 December 2003 - 04:10 PM
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Posted 14 December 2003 - 10:04 PM
Hans, next time I'm anywhere near where you are, will you coach me in Death Stare? I'm afraid that most of the time, mine has lost its edge. :shrug:
Posted 15 December 2003 - 12:28 AM
As the lights were going down for Act II, they started again. Alicia said something to them, and the wife turned around, looked back and forth at us -- two women -- and turned her glare into a patronizing, sickly sweet smile of pity. That's when I lost it and said in a stage whisper, "This is NOT television." She was shocked, but she sat still still, in her own seat, for the rest of the performance.
Posted 15 December 2003 - 05:47 AM
Last month at a performance all of the sudden a man two rows in front of me started yelling at another man to BE QUIET! The second mans wife was heard to say to the first man "He can't help it. He has a problem." Man 1 replied "He is GOING to have a problem if he doesn't SHUT UP!" Wife informs him that "my husband has Torretts Syndrome." Irrate Man practically screamed "THE TORRETTS SEATS ARE IN THE BACK!!!" Well, needless to say all of us around this little group were horrified! I actually thought that Irrate Man was going to punch man 2! After the intermission I noticed that crazy, screaming, Irrate Man didn't return to his seat. Everyone was happy.
I agree that Nut performances can get a pretty noisy but it is a perfect ballet for little ones to enjoy and they can't really be expected to behave as adults should. If not for all the little voices ooohhhing and awwwing in the audience far fewer tickets would be sold and probably far fewer little dancers would be born.
Maybe I can think of this thread the next time I'm sitting in my seat, with a 3 year old kicking it from behind, and I'll just smile.
Posted 15 December 2003 - 08:23 AM
The fact is whenever I'm disturbed by audience behavior, if I react with a shush or a comment, I find myself only getting more upset. So now that I'm approaching my dotage, I just concentrate on the ballet and hope the offensive behavior will cease. It usually does.
While on this subject, I must say I usually find young dancers and dance students the very models of audience decorum. But occasionally there are those who maintain a running commentary on what's happening onstage. On these occasions, I do turn around, and glare of the stars of the future.
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