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fandeballet

An idea for audience etiquette

30 posts in this topic

I have been thinking when the program at the MET would have the do's and don'ts of how people should act during a performance.

I think we should request that should be done on permanent basis.

Could we think of doing that somewhere on this website???????????????

It could be the start of a movement of more civility, perhaps. We owe it to ourselves and others to try. :angry2::wallbash:

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The Kennedy Center as a page about theater etiquette in its playbill. I'm surprised places like the Met haven't followed suit.

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A girlfriend and I call the disturbing phenomenon of the enthusiastically shouted "waaaahooooooooooooooooo" at the ballet, opera or theater the "NASCAR phenomenon." I would contend that it seems to have become far more prevalent in the last 10-15 years.

We had a lively discussion about it just prior to curtain at the Kennedy Center's Kirov performance last Friday night, so we were well pleased to hear a chorus of enthusiastic "Bravo" and "Bravas" coming from all around us in the audience.

Edited by MichelleW

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For those who missed it last spring, here's a pretty interesting exchange about the topic of bravo v. wahoo etc. here:

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fandeballet, I like your suggestion for a list of etiquette guidelines on the site--perhaps it could be a sticky in one of the forums.

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Hans is right -- a good idea for a this site, and it would be interesting to see what sort of do's and don'ts we could actually agree upon.

The problem with "How to Behave at the Ballet" guidelines in ballet programs -- and, in at least one case I've seen, a major part of the subscription information package -- is that people who need them don't read them, and people who don't need them feel somehow condescended to.

Audiences at classical arts performances are already SO FAR AHEAD of the general public in terms of controlling their behavior and respecting the experience of their neighbors. How much further can they move from what's considered the normin most other forms of public entertaiment?

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Maybe the theater could learn something from the Royal Opera House and have bewigged and liveried footmen at either side of the proscenium - then give them each a .30 caliber M1917 Browning Automatic Rifle and tell them to blast anybody who is naughty. :devil:

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I think that after the conductor takes the podium, the lead couple should emerge before the curtain and say:

Ladies and gentlemen,

We've worked very hard to give you an enjoyable, satisfying experience tonight.  In consideration of your fellow audience members, please do not talk or whisper, hum, open candies, allow your cell phone to ring, lean forward in your seat, fuss, fidget, snore or engage in other rude, self-centered behavior.

As for this site, I think posting a sticky would be preaching to the choir. We're not the problem.

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OK, we don't need a guideline for this website. But, could we petition performing arts venues and/or troupes to set minimum age and "consideration of your fellow audience members" guidelines??? A grassroots type of campaign???????? We have to stop complaining and try to do something about the downward trend of audience conduct!!! :devil::yahoo:

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NYCB distributes a set of guidelines for children, but really they apply to everyone. Don't make noise, go to the bathroom ahead of time, etc. (I drummed these into my son's head so well that when I answered one of his questions during The Nutcracker quietly, he whispered back very clearly "Mommy! at the ballet you have to WHISPER!" As for minimum ages: he was three when he said this. )

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Again, it shows that there will be many exceptions. But, it came down to the fact that Mr. Johnson did his homework. And knew his child's capabilities. My girls were around 4 when they sat down for their 1st opera(1act only) or a ballet. But there are alot of parents who don't have a clue about what they are doing when bringing their child to a theater like the MET.

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But there are alot of parents who don't have a clue about what they are doing when bringing their child to a theater like the MET.

That is true if one gives them the benefit of the doubt and says that they have simply become oblivious to any noise their children make or it is a misguided attempt to train a child to behave in a theater.

Unfortunately, many do know what they are doing -- saving the trouble and cost of hiring a babysitter, and bringing children who are too young or immature or unprepared to understand their setting -- but that doesn't translate into consideration for their fellow audience members.

The "but I spent $100 on these seats, including one for Kid, and I'm not leaving now" or "It would break Older Child's heart to leave because Younger Child is crying" arguments doesn't hold water, although they hold sway. One of the tradeoffs of training children for the theater is the willingness to bail when the child is unable to behave properly, and to consider the tickets a sunk cost, and to prepare Older Child for the possibility. (Don't bet what you're not willing to lose.) To the argument that then the child has "won," perhaps, the battle, but not the war, which is a longer-term prospect, and it could be a while before the child is invited to the next performance.

Teaching a child to behave in the theater is a process, and teaching mode is about the student and the "material." If the teacher/parent gets to see a performance in the process, that's gravy.

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But there are alot of parents who don't have a clue about what they are doing when bringing their child to a theater like the MET.

That is true if one gives them the benefit of the doubt and says that they have simply become oblivious to any noise their children make or it is a misguided attempt to train a child to behave in a theater.

Unfortunately, many do know what they are doing -- saving the trouble and cost of hiring a babysitter, and bringing children who are too young or immature or unprepared to understand their setting -- but that doesn't translate into consideration for their fellow audience members.

The "but I spent $100 on these seats, including one for Kid, and I'm not leaving now" or "It would break Older Child's heart to leave because Younger Child is crying" arguments doesn't hold water, although they hold sway. One of the tradeoffs of training children for the theater is the willingness to bail when the child is unable to behave properly, and to consider the tickets a sunk cost, and to prepare Older Child for the possibility. (Don't bet what you're not willing to lose.) To the argument that then the child has "won," perhaps, the battle, but not the war, which is a longer-term prospect, and it could be a while before the child is invited to the next performance.

Teaching a child to behave in the theater is a process, and teaching mode is about the student and the "material." If the teacher/parent gets to see a performance in the process, that's gravy.

Helene, I agree with what you said. :blink: It seems to me that a portion of the audience/society still needs to learn some things.

And when ushers get involved, it can get more heated, because they are not on the same level as an audience member, who if not trained right, will not acknowledge the usher's duty to help enforce rules. Rules that help make a performance as enjoyable to as many people, if not everyone, as possible.

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One problem with ushers -- many ushers in regional arts centers are volunteers, often a bit elderly, and not professionally trained to handle this. The house has its own paid employees, but there are significantly fewer of them.

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One problem with ushers -- many ushers in regional arts centers are volunteers, often a bit elderly, and not professionally trained to handle this.

They need to bring in a few burly bar bouncers.

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They need to bring in a few burly bar bouncers.

I don't think the average person with a big ego and a bigger sense of entitlement would obey a civil servant without a weapon and a court system behind him or her. I've seen those thick Plexiglas windows at the DMV.

Ushers have house management, but, in my opinion, too often, "the customer is always right," while another set of patrons is livid that nothing is done (mea culpa), not knowing that the ushers' hands have been tied.

I like the idea of having a very large, glowering person to back up a usher and to take no guff.

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Again,  it shows that there will be many exceptions.  But, it came down to the fact that Mr. Johnson did his homework. And knew his child's capabilities. My girls were around 4 when they sat down for their 1st opera(1act only) or a ballet. But there are alot of parents who don't have a clue about what they are doing when bringing their child to a theater like the MET.

Not to nitpick, but I'm a Ms. Johnson.

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The "but I spent $100 on these seats, including one for Kid, and I'm not leaving now" or "It would break Older Child's heart to leave because Younger Child is crying" arguments doesn't hold water, although they hold sway.  One of the tradeoffs of training children for the theater is the willingness to bail when the child is unable to behave properly, and to consider the tickets a sunk cost, and to prepare Older Child for the possibility.  (Don't bet what you're not willing to lose.)  To the argument that then the child has "won," perhaps, the battle, but not the war, which is a longer-term prospect, and it could be a while before the child is invited to the next performance.

Teaching a child to behave in the theater is a process, and teaching mode is about the student and the "material."  If the teacher/parent gets to see a performance in the process, that's gravy.

Helene, I agree with much that has been said here regarding small children that don't have manners needed for a theater event.

But last night I was at ABT and these two ladies next to me chattered through much of act 1. They finally did quiet down before I had to get an usher but it made me wonder, how can kids behave quietly when adults nearby don't?

Maybe this is snobby but too many audiences seem to have people in them that behave as they would in their living room watching TV. This turns me off at movies too.

Richard

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Maybe this is snobby but too many audiences seem to have people in them that behave as they would in their living room watching TV. This turns me off at movies too.

Richard

I could not agree with you more.

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For those of you who attended last Saturday's matinee and had to contend with the crying babies and children, you may be interested to know that I called the Metropolitan Opera house, spoke to someone in customer service who was very sympathetic to my complaints and urged anyone concerned to send in a letter, that this will be taken seriously by management. Letters should go to:

Issue Management Department

The Metropolitan Opera

Lincoln Center

New York, NY 10023

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Here! Here! I agree with with Richard 100%

Sorry Ms. Johnson :wink::flowers:

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Again,  it shows that there will be many exceptions.  But, it came down to the fact that Mr. Johnson did his homework. And knew his child's capabilities. My girls were around 4 when they sat down for their 1st opera(1act only) or a ballet. But there are alot of parents who don't have a clue about what they are doing when bringing their child to a theater like the MET.

Not to nitpick, but I'm a Ms. Johnson.

And while I'm Mr. Johnson, I'm an old bachelor, and so have no children, well, none to speak of. :blink:

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Boy, I don't know what's going on at the MET, but either things are really bad, or some people are just too sensitive.

Here in Amsterdam people are usually quiet and appreciative, no "waahooo's!" whatsoever, and I love shows with children in the audience. Don't you just love it when kids try to mimick the moves in intermission time? One of my funniest memories is a performance of Petrushka and Les Sylphides. In the intermission after Petrushka I spotted an eight-year old boy clawing the walls in the lobby in an effort to be like Petrushka.

Les Sylphides is arguably the world's most boring ballet for kids, and I remember a girl (one of two blonde siblings) who'd had it after the mazurka and turned her back on the show staring at the dark audience for the rest of the piece - quiet as a mouse.

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Hm, come to think of it, I don't remember loud cheering at the opera in Lausanne, but my memory may not be accurate.

There are times when children do cute/non-annoying things, (at WB's "Where the Wild Things Are" a small girl loudly whispered to her mother, "This is a long movie!") but then I recall the time when I took the train from New York to DC to see the Nutcracker. I arrived in time for Act II, and when the Sugarplum Fairy started her variation, a child behind me started loudly humming along :blink: I turned around, gave her a look that would have frozen water in July, and she was silent for the rest of the evening.

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