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audience etiquette rant


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#16 dido

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 09:53 AM

A few years ago (I can't even remember what performance it was) a woman and her husband sitting directly in front of me continued their talking and snuggling (complete with sloppy fake kissing noises) into the beginning of the overture. I leaned forward and with what I thought was complete restraint and politeness asked them if they could please be quiet, as the performance was beginning.

The woman turned around and said, Well, ex-CU-ze me! and proceed to talk for the entire rest of the performance, making remarks about how rude teenagers are, and how disgusting and offensive blue hair and tatoos were (both of which I had at the time). I was practically weeping with rage and frustration by the first intermission and then I moved.

Whew. I have to admit, the kiddies drive me nuts too--when I'm there, but I can always make allowances. Plus, I've never seen the kind of flat out rude-meanness in a child that I see in some adults at the theater...

#17 atm711

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 10:34 AM

The responses are much too polite for me. Generally, a loud "Schuss" stops the clatter. However, recently at a performance of the Farrell Ballet in New Jersey a very lovey-dovey couple sat in front of me. Their heads were continuously together and they couldn't keep their hands off each other. When the houselights dimmed I tapped them on the shoulder and assured them that I did not come to see the back of their heads. They left at the first intermission. :devil:

#18 LMCtech

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 01:05 PM

I have been known to tap on a persons shoulder and imform them that this is not a movie. I like the TV comment as well.

At a Broadway show, a family next to us pulled out bags of cornnuts and started eating them in the middle of the 1st act. We were two rows back (really nice comps!) and I;m sure the orchestra could heasr the crunching during dialogue sections. My husband finally turned to them and said "This is NOT a baseball game. Save your snacks for intermission." He then informed the ushers on the way out for intermission that those people had food in the theatre and were eating it during the show. The half eaten cornnuts were confiscated and the family moved seats (possible as the theater was nearly empty) away from my husband. Leave it to a stagehand to get really irrate and get the house staff involved.

#19 GretchenStar

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 01:11 PM

Funny, I was just thinking about this topic. We had a show yesterday, and one of the former dancers (mid-teens) was in the audience. Okay, she's known for being loud and likes shocking people. But anyways, the audience was getting into the performance, cheering while applauding, etc. In the beginning of Waltz of Flowers, after the harp part, she yells out. Like "yeah!" or something. She did it again once during the dancing (I think).

I talked to a friend who saw the show yesterday and she said that someone told the girl to stop that. Good. How annoying.

#20 Old Fashioned

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 04:49 PM

At a recent performance of HGO's Tosca, a couple sitting next to me couldn't seem to stop giggling at the beginning of the second act. They must have found something funny about Scarpia's plans to ravish Tosca (Maria Guleghina!) and ruin Cavaradossi. Oh, they were trying hard to suppress their giggles, but as you can imagine, it detracted from the overall aura I should have been getting from this scene. What I really don't understand are people who pay hundreds of dollars for a seat and end up falling asleep throughout half of the performance, as was the case with this man in front of me (my seat was fabulous- smack in the middle of orchestra- but I got a 200 dollar discount on mine :devil: ).

#21 LMCtech

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 04:58 PM

I have found the Symphony particularly notorious for snoring.


My latest pet-peeve is audience members who are too young to be there. Take note parents: the theater is NOT the place for your infant or toddler under 3. Hire a sitter for goodness sakes.

#22 Funny Face

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 05:01 PM

This is the most hysterical thread I have ever read, hands down! I'm going to steal bits and pieces for my great southern novel, just try and stop me!!! :devil:

"Oh, we never talk when they're singing." C'mon, that's priceless.

On a more sober note, I became chemically sensitive three years ago, which has changed my entire social life, particularly when it comes to attending concerts, which I do only when I want to see something so desperately, and just pray for the best. The perfume issue is insanity. In my mother's day, the only person who was supposed to be able to smell your scent was the person with whom you exchanged tender intimacies. Now, it's in your face. Even if there weren't the issue of chemical sensitivity, it would be obnoxious, to say the least. Ugh, I'm getting off my soapbox before I even start on that one -- you would not want to hear my discourse on the real reason women do this.

In any event, you might try to tap the offending party at the next concert, and simply ask, "Excuse me, is this performance interfering with your conversation?"

If that doesn't work, you could always enter the theater after intermission with the chain saw retrieved from your car's trunk. I think that, combined with a well honed death stare, would probably do the trick.

#23 floss

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 05:14 PM

I went to see a friend's DD performance and could not believe how rude some people are, even though the bell had rung for all to go into the theatre there were still people wandering in well after the performance had started. They had not arrived late they were already in the foyer well before the start of the performance they were just too self important to consider that the students had been rehearsing for months to produce a 'professional' performance. If I had been on the door I would have locked it and told them they would have to wait until a break in the program! Then at intermission people brought food and drinks in to the theatre, which they were not supposed to do, and then when they left at the end of the performance left their rubbish on the floor. Disgusting! :angry: At least the babies were well behaved this year and we didn't have to put up with @#% parents who won't take their screaming babies out of the theatre.

#24 Guest_Banana Feet_*

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 06:49 PM

I'm sure my friend and I annoyed a few ppl at Nutcracker when we were commenting on all the things that were wrong...but we couldn't even come close to the people behind us. This woman was there with her daughter who looked about 4 years old. The woman was explaining the story to the daughter--and since the music was loud the woman thought she had to talk over the orchestra. So for the whole ballet, I got to hear what this woman's idea of the plot was. Then during snow, the little girl screams "MOMMY LOOK AT THE PRETTY SNOWFLAKES." I started laughing...

#25 kfw

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 06:59 PM

I went to see a friend's DD performance and could not believe how rude some people are, even though the bell had rung for all to go into the theatre there were still people wandering in well after the performance had started.

This reminds me of the final SFB performance at the Kennedy Center this year, when a mother and two little kids came in very late, at the start of The Unanswered Question, and marched all the way down front to their seats, with the mother directing the children where to sit in a voice that must have been audible in the entire theater, thereby completely destroying the atmosphere of the ballet. I'm used to unthoughtful patrons, but what in the world was the usher thinking?

#26 Amy Reusch

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 08:14 PM

I'm told that when I was 3 and at my first ballet performance, Nutcracker, of course, I jumped up and down and called out something along the lines of "go away, we've already seen you!" when the finale began...

I was, however, hooked for life. I kind of think, in the long run, it was worth it.

And so, I'm afraid, I took my own daughter at 3 to Nutcracker, waiting to see if she had the same reaction. It did not. Her gaffe was different... she thought the Sugarplum's variation was the funniest thing she'd ever seen and let out these deep belly laughs. I winced and cringed looking around for escape when I noticed cast members standing behind us watching the show... and saw they thought my child's reaction was hysterical. Maybe I've been missing something all these years. [she settled down and we stayed for the rest of the show... no one glared at me, so I guess my own horror was the worst reaction]

I tried again the next year, but still no interest in dancing. She did, however, understand advertising and status symbols. In her analysis, the thing to want was not dance classes but the darn Nutcracker doll.

This year, she's been making me read her awful dance picture books (I assume I need only say "bubblegum pink" and you'll all know what I mean" and the less than awful "Ballet Bug" chapter book. She started taking class last week, and we're off for our third try on Thursday.

Do you know what's worse than not having your child share your enthusiasm for dance? Having them begin to take interest in it and refuse to take any advice from you.

I'd love to see a poll of how many ballet alerters' interest was first piqued by Nutcracker and at what age... and if not Nutcracker, was there another particular performance?

Might help us all have patience with the wee ones.

#27 carbro

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 08:47 PM

In any event, you might try to tap the offending party at the next concert, and simply ask, "Excuse me, is this performance interfering with your conversation?"

If that doesn't work,

Often it doesn't.

. . . you could always enter the theater after intermission with the chain saw retrieved from your car's trunk.  I think that, combined with a well honed death stare, would probably do the trick.

Delicious idea, but unfortunately at Lincoln Center all bags are inspected as we enter the Met or NYST. I think what they're looking for is just such a chainsaw.

#28 pumukau

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 09:43 PM

Once I sat next to a girl of about four who was at her first ballet with her mother. She was VERY excited about the ballet and full of lucid questions which she asked in a whisper and her mother answered quietly. I was really enjoying her until the guy in front of her turned around and glared and barked at her to be quiet. I almost smacked him, because none of us enjoyed the rest of the performance as much as we had with the little girl's help.

I'm not a silence nazi anymore. The last time I shusshed anyone she turned out to be the proud mother of a young man who was doing his first performance as a soloist. I was so embarrassed when we both went up to him after the show to congratulate him! But she was congenial about it.

But little children? ESPECIALLY at nutcracker for pete's sake. If they're into it it's the best part of the ballet. If they're not, mmm, better juice up the show. Oh, yeah, you go to nut to listen to the music? And wow, Amy, what would I give to sit next to Chloe at her first nutcracker!!! With a tape recorder running!

Ed, I have never been to opera in Italy but understand that the audiences are much more vocal there.

No, if someone is whispering ABOUT the ballet and obviously engaged in it it's fine with me. It's an opening for a conversation at intermission; I go to ballets and opera to meet people who are excited about ballet and opera!

On the other hand, I had two women in huge furs and too much perfume sit behind me and yack about the day's adventures at the mall during Serenade until I turned backwards in my seat and sat cross-legged until they stopped. And then there was the guy who let his beeper go THROUGH THE ENTIRE BALCONY SCENE of Romeo and Juliet. He was somewhere about five rows behind me, so at intermission I stood up and made the announcement that anyone who was sitting near the individual with the beeper was invited to join me in dragging him into the alley before the next act. Before I finished speaking thirty people were glaring at the offending party. So the final act was, well, properly tomblike.

#29 Guest_gingembre_*

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 07:32 AM

I have to add, Nutcracker (especially matinees!) is the one exception to the kids-talking etiquette rule for me. I feel that this especially is a ballet for children, and very often the first one for them! They're often brought quite young, and hopefully they love it, but we can't expect complete silence from them :lol: In fact, I agree with pumukau, if they're not getting into it, something is not right!

I'm definitely looking forward to taking my daughter at 3 or 4 :D As she's only 6 months now, I have a while to analyze her general tolerance level for sitting still :wink:

And in any case, if you *do* bring an infant (something I've been guilty of at movies :wub: ) there is a cardinal rule: crying means a mom-and-baby exit! (Or dad-and-baby). We've followed this with no problems.

#30 oberon

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 09:08 AM

Inattentive, chatting, snoring, coughing, eating & drinking, singing-along audience members are so low class.

Parents should also realize that children have very short attention spans and while they might like to watch the growing tree, mice, even the snowflakes, they do tend to get restless during the divertissement.

Once we sat near a couple who brought 2 small kids to BAYADERE, of all things. The children were horrible, talking, eating, jumping up and down. An usher came over during the intermission and told the couple that there were numerous complaints. They apologized profusely but during the next act they continued to let their brats misbehave. We had moved to the other side of the balcony but it was not far enough...


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