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audience etiquette rant


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#31 Helene

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 11:30 AM

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.


It took me a number of years of fuming to actually say this to anyone out loud. My reference used to be the movies; I was used to the absolutely silent audience members at the Film Forum in NYC. But since then, I've found that making out, sharing one seat, and talking throughout have become standard movie etiquette, probably because of television.

My friends and I gave up the Tuesday afternoon cheap show at the art house movie theater in Scarsdale, because it was full of senior citizens, who seemed to maintain a constant chant of "WHAT? WHAT? WHAT DID SHE SAY?," even when the movie was subtitled :)

#32 LMCtech

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 11:39 AM

I don't mind whispering. Talking over the orchestra is not acceptable. Jumping up and down and running up and down the aisles is also not acceptable.

I don't mind babies who cry either, as long as Mom takes them out.

I have a colleague who took her son to many ballets when he was young, but they always left at intermission. This kid reached the age of 10 and suddenly realized that the death of Giselle was not the end of the ballet, and Clara actually went somewhere in that darn sled.

I know people who do the same thing at operas, i.e. they leave after the first act. There are a group of young, poor opera lovers who are known to ask people for their ticket stubs so they can see the rest of the opera. I have an acquaintance who has seen most of the SF Opera repertory, except for the first acts.

#33 Funny Face

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 11:52 AM

I took my stepson to Nutcracker for the first time when he was 10 or 11, and he was dead silent with his mouth open the entire time. It was a thrill for me to watch his reaction. Of course, he's always been a child very taken with art and visual stimulation, which that ballet is chock full of. I do think that this particular ballet calls for some leeway -- and it is a joy to see all children's first reaction.

#34 Guest_ivy'smama_*

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 02:13 PM

I agree children and the Nutcracker go together. But INFANTS??? Why do people insist on taking infants places they shouldn't (weddings, ballet, funerals, etc. etc. etc.) I don't know of any baby that can sit quietly for two hours. Obviously, this is a pet peeve of mine. Hire a babysitter, PLEASE!!!

#35 Funny Face

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 03:28 PM

One of my brothers has a very special relationship with his sons. I recall him telling me years ago when his oldest was two, he could go to a movie, put the tot in his lap and he was so content to sit with daddy, he'd just eat his little popcorn and be perfectly happy and not make a peep. There are some rare exceptions to these things.

Here's an even more interesting one. One of my sisters was getting sworn in as a criminal judge in a very somber ceremony in a courtroom with 15 different speakers that day, one of them being the former governor. A very serious event indeed. My sister-in-law came in shortly after it started, carrying her 10-month-old daughter. A few eyebrows were raised as the two sat down next to me. For the next two hours, the mother held her daughter in her lap, facing her, and periodically did sign language to her -- just small things, like "good girl." The child could actually sign back a bit. The baby did not make one sound, just beamed and smiled at everyone until all those sitting in back of her had fallen completely in love with her. I admit, I had my doubts at first, but I was pretty amazed at this new use of sign language for someone not hearing impaired.

It's never too early to teach our children how to behave appropriately, I guess. The more communication you have with them early on, with regard to what you expect, the better you'll fare.

I'm not sure this problem always has much to do with age -- there are adults who cough uncontrollably, stink, wear big hair or big hats, eat, laugh, converse, and generally make nuisances of themselves, at least as much as wee ones. (In case you can't tell, I'm an ardent lover of children.)

#36 sandik

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 04:48 PM

I have a terrible confession to make -- I was humming accidentally at Swan Lake this autumn.

I hum in the car, the shower, the office (I work alone at home), walking down the street.. you get the picture. I was totally unaware that I was doing this in the theater until the woman next to me very kindly said that I was humming and could I please stop. I didn't expire from embarassment, but my ears were warm for several hours after that!

There are several movie houses and a couple of legit theaters here (Seattle) with "crying rooms" for parents with kids (unfortunately none of the dance houses have them).

#37 carbro

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 04:51 PM

It also depends on the child's temperament and ability to be quiet and unobtrusive. My sister-in-law used to take her infant daughter to afternoon movies on a regular basis. The little girl was very docile. When, four years later, my nephew was born, sis-in-law just assumed she'd be able to do the same.

I think she took him to one movie in his infancy. He was active and vocal. He is now ten and has been a good audience member for many years, but he needed to gain a little (not much) maturity in the meantime.

#38 Ed Waffle

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 05:17 PM

This thread reminds me of two anecdotes, one related to ballet and the season:

1) We were in Chicago a number of years ago, visiting friends and family during Christmastime. I was speaking with my sister's eldest daughter one afternoon and asked her if she was going to the Nutcracker that year with her mother or grandmother, as she had each year for the past several. She told me that she wasn't going because of all the young kids in the audience--kids, she said "who just had no idea of how to behave at the ballet". There were, she said, too many pre-teens.

I didn't get it, of course, and asked something like "Oh, you mean really young children who fidget and cry?" She fixed me with the kind of look that long-suffering kids of her age give to adults who simply don't get it. "No, I mean pre-teens--you know, the 12-year olds"

She was thirteen at the time.


2) When the 1967 Luis Bunel film Belle de Jour was re-released with sparkling new prints, we saw it at the local art house. Like hockeyfan228, we were surrounded by senior citizens (one of which I will become in all too short a time) but, for a change, they didn't have much to say. Until the very end of the movie, when the credits were rolling. One lady immediately behind us, said to her friend, "That Catherine Deneuve is amazing. She still looks great after all those years."

#39 dirac

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 05:23 PM

I think it's true that you can't expect peace and quiet at a Nutcracker, but kicking the seat in front and jumping up and down are NEVER acceptable. I don't mind the kids talking -- I enjoy listening, in fact.

I would never say, "This isn't a movie" because that implies that bad behavior is more permissible at a movie house, and I don't concede that!

Hi, Ed. :D

#40 Amy Reusch

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 08:56 PM

This is probably illegal in many varied ways, but I have found that a chupa-chup (thick spanish lollipop now widely available), carefully unwrapped PRIOR to the dimming of the house lights will buy one about 20 minutes of calm focused silence (less than one act). However, candy wrappers of all kinds should be stiffly punished. I think the only thing acceptable is those Ricola cough drops that seem to be easily silently unwrapped (probably the real reason they're favored by opera stars). However, BEWARE, anyone offering candy to a child during a performance will most likely find the child's attention far more focused on the candy than the performance...

Keith, I applaud your aplomb!

#41 Guest_stacymckenna_*

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Posted 17 December 2003 - 10:20 AM

My introduction to live theater was gradual and very prepared. My aunt and uncle started us with child-oriented things, like puppet shows and such, small gatherings where noise would be more forgiven. Then we moved to productions of Peter Pan, The MUsic Man, and Annie in Broadway-caliber venues here in L.A. about age 7. We were very carefully instructed on proper behavior during the performances before the show, sometimes for weeks or months. A trip to a restaurant for dinner was usually included so dining etiquette was also emphasized. It was very exciting - we planned for weeks or months in advance and were very good in order to be deserving of such a treat again. In fact, at Annie, I was so quiet my aunt wasn't sure I was enjoying it until we got home and I sung my mother every line I could remember over the phone, telling her all about the production! When I was 12 the most exciting gift I got was tickets for Cats! (my bday is in Jan, the tickets were Oct - agony!) Opera was introduced in my teens starting with La Boheme followed by Tosca and Turandot, and I started taking myself to ballet in my late teens (my uncle didn't like ballet - he kept expecting them to sing!). I also belonged to the youth program affiliated with OCPAC where proper theater etiquette was expected at student-attended dress rehearsals, etc.

I think it's all about parents being responsible and considerate. So many parents now don't know how to teach their children proper manners for any public place - church, restaurant, theater, any of it. Of course, when adults have manners like those described here, how can you expect them to teach proper manners to their kids? Very sad...

#42 LMCtech

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 12:16 PM

I agree with stacy. Completely.

I had very strict theater etiquette training that started very young (first play at three). If we misbehaved in public we heard about it when we got home. My mother was (and is) a firm beliver in the correct time and place for things and she never reprimanded us in public. We were taken to the car or a bathroom or somewhere else and then severely lectured. As infants we were never taken to concerts or shows. It was a privelege we had to earn by displaying good behavior at extended family dinners or sports events or school shows.

It is maybe unrealistic of me to expect all parents to act as mine did, but I do wish they would at least try to control their little monsters. The mother who yells at me because I asked her daughter to stop kicking my chair is particularly offensive. I have been known to say to mothers like this (and there are many in San Francisco), '"If you won't control your child I guess I do."

#43 Guest_pique_arabesque_*

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Posted 20 December 2003 - 06:52 PM

A couple of months ago, I got comps to see a performance by my studio's affiliated company. They were doing a ballet at a local park, I think they did three or four short vignettes (the entire show was only about an hour and a half, maybe two hours, counting intermission), and the tickets were cheap, so of course there were a gazillion little kids there. We were sitting right up by the stage (on another subject, I felt so bad for those dancers - the stage was cement and they only had a thin layer of marley laid over it), surrounded by young kids.

These parents were TERRIBLE. They were letting their kids run around and climb onstage, for heaven's sake! There were little kids talking, dancing, doing cartwheels in the grass - it was all I could do not to say anything. I just couldn't believe it. I mean, just because it's in an atypical venue doesn't mean that you have the right to let your kids misbehave like that. Honestly.

#44 Funny Face

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Posted 20 December 2003 - 07:31 PM

Parents let their children behave that way because we live in an era in which people consistently demonstrate their philosophy that getting any attention, even negative attention, is better than getting none at all. Hence, the cell phone behavior, the entering a classroom late and walking in front of the teacher while he/she is lecturing, conversing in public in such a vociferous fashion as to ensure everyone knows the intimate details of your private life, drenching yourself in fragrance instead of a hint behind the ear or knee, showing your guts and butts in pants and tops that allow the world to see your lack of torso tone ... oh yes, this all started out when someone started proselytizing about how important it was to GIVE self esteem to people instead of allowing them to earn it. Perhaps we need to start an organization entitled "Partnership for a Saner World."

#45 Guest_Anne_*

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Posted 21 December 2003 - 07:30 PM

I must say that I am shocked and outraged at some of your experiences! I would have a very difficult time sitting next to someone who is bothersome after I've paid a goodly sum for the seat. I do remember one occasion when a very drunk couple came late to a performance and the man fell asleep and started to snore rather loudly. Somehow that didn't bother me, but reading the posts here I should feel fortunate that I haven't had to live through them.


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