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Audience behaviorany especially bad examples recently?

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#31 Estelle


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Posted 30 March 2007 - 01:02 AM

Oh dear, Natalia, what an awful experience it must have been. And I find her answer "I have a right to react" impressively stupid...

I recently had an especially frustrating experience of bad neighbour behaviour during a ballet performance. It was during an ABT performance at the Théâtre du Chatelet in Paris in february (by the way, I realize a bit too late I forgot to post some comments), the seats aren't especially comfortable there, but also the man behind me kept knocking to the back of my seat with his knees very often and it was quite uncomfortable. After I while, I politely asked him to be careful about him, and then he became extremely agressive, said he never touched my seat, it was only my imagination, I was stupid, etc. I was so baffled by his attitude (and my husband too) that I barely managed to reply. Fortunately, he left during the last intermission so I was quiet at least during the end of the program, but it was such an unpleasant incident that it really diminished my enjoyment of the performance (plus the fact that the sight lines there really are quite bad...)

#32 Mashinka


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Posted 30 March 2007 - 06:31 AM

I'm generally tolerant towards children, but I draw the line at babies.

Covent Garden actually encourages them, as there is a designated baby-changing room on the Amphitheatre level at ROH.

#33 Cygnet


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Posted 30 March 2007 - 08:05 AM

I remember a Royal Ballet performance of "Beauty" I attended
as a teen. There was an infant that screamed during the Overture
well into 1/3 of the Prologue's pas de six - the quietest moments of the
pas de six. Then out of the blue, this basso of a man yelled at the top
of his lungs "GET THAT KID OUTTA HERE!" The echo reverberated
through the house. There were no further interruptions. My guess is
that the parent(s) excused themselves from the performance. I
agree with Dirac. In today's un-civil/P.C. climate, if someone were
bold enough to do that today they would be labeled a child hating monster,
or worse - there'd be an altercation, or a lawsuit.

#34 Estelle


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Posted 30 March 2007 - 09:13 AM

It seems to me that some theaters forbid their performances to children under a certain age, or at least indicate in their programs that the programs are not suited to them... For example, the Lyon auditorium, home of the Lyon National Orchestra, writes in its season program that "l'accès de la salle est déconseillé aux moins de 5 ans" (more or less: people are advised not to bring children under 5), except for specific activities targeted at children. They offer a service of "musical baby-sitting" for children between 3 and 8 for some of the symphonic concerts on Saturday evenings (the tickets cost 6 euros, which probably is less than one hour of normal baby-sitting), and have several concerts which are free for children under 12 (including some especially targeted at families), so I think that they really couldn't be called "child hating".

#35 koshka


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Posted 30 March 2007 - 09:14 AM

Er, don't these places have ticket policies? The Kennedy Center simply requires that every audience member have a ticket, even a baby. Seems to cut down on a lot of problems, especially in the Opera House.

#36 carbro


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Posted 30 March 2007 - 10:11 AM

For example, the Lyon auditorium, home of the Lyon National Orchestra . . . offer a service of "musical baby-sitting" for children between 3 and 8 for some of the symphonic concerts on Saturday evenings (the tickets cost 6 euros, which probably is less than one hour of normal baby-sitting . . .

This is creative and enlightened in so many ways. It solves the baby sitting problem, encouraging parents to attend concerts -- perhaps with older children. It exposes younger children to music and going to the theater, making it part of their lives and nurturing a new generation of concert-goers, helping to solve the How Do We Attract a Younger Audience problem. And it cuts down on disruptive children. It's a win-win-win-win solution -- for parents, children, presenters and audiences.

Most theaters have spaces that can accommodate this service, or can be adapted during performances. It would be wise for them to develop similar policies.

#37 chrisk217


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Posted 30 March 2007 - 11:38 AM

Natalia, you were not nearly harsh enough!

Apart from the usual cough percussionists I've also come across the Explainer. Explainers are people who feel so confident about their knowledge of ballet that they absolutely have to share their insights with their less enlightened friends while the performance goes on.

I was recently at a Russian Stars gala where due to poor organisation a lot of people didn't get a program. But, never fear, there was this woman who gave us all a running commentary of the proceedings.

Our seats were several rows in front of hers so I couldn't quite catch everything (mostly the steady stream of whispering) but at some points she got really animated and upped the volume. It was after Ali's variation and Medora was coming on stage to do hers when in great excitement she cried: "Now watch this! Here comes Giselle again!"

:) :blink:

#38 Natalia


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Posted 30 March 2007 - 12:51 PM

....in great excitement she cried: "Now watch this! Here comes Giselle again!"

That sounds lie the Dick Button of ballet, chrisk!

A bit more on my experience with The Artistically-Moved One:

A warning to Washington Ballet subscribers: this gal sits in the front-left orchestra on opening nights (Wednesdays)...so make sure to steer clear of that area when renewing or buying subscriptions for next year! [Maybe the WB can offer a discount for that chunk of seats?] Also, I should have added that I was not alone in expressing displeasure at this woman. During intermission, two young ladies who had the misfortune of sitting in front of the woman turned to me & thanked me for having the 'nerve' to try to shush-up the woman. Of course, it didn't help for the 2nd half of the show, as this woman continued her ways but merely switched seats with her companion. Twice during 'Carmina,' I saw one of the young ladies turn back to the woman right after she had emitted loud noises. But the woman didn't 'get it' (or didn't care). So I was not alone. Honestly -- please be forewarned, WB Wednesday-night lower-left Orchestra Seat subscribers!

#39 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 30 March 2007 - 01:34 PM

Why hasn't science developed a quiet, clean, portable vaporization gun for such problems YET? Something that fits in an evening purse, makes no noise when smashing atoms and leaves no residue on the seat. Snap to it, scientists!

#40 4mrdncr


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Posted 30 March 2007 - 01:56 PM

The dream of all quantum physicists. But as only a normal dimensional earthling...

I have experienced most of those audience members at some time...here are my favorites:

At the cinema...those who bring (or purchase) an entire 5 course meal into the theatre and then proceed to unwrap (loudly), spill everywhere (and don't we love that sickly sweet smell, and sticky residue!), and gnosh loudly like a large herd of very large animals. At the ballet, I agree with ABT's notice to unwrap candies/losenges quietly or before the performance please.

Ok I will admit it...I must be a "child-hating monster" because I have a VERY low tolerance for obnoxius small children and their oblivious parents. I haven't been to a Nut in probably 20 years for that reason (unless I could 'hide' in the tv control room.) And I have several times tried the 'angry/mean/direct stare' at the offending child (hoping to scare them into silence) or parent (hoping to scare them), and have said loudly "Will you PLEASE stop kicking my seat!" so everyone knows how rude they are.

But my favorite--besides the lady with the very large hair (she must have been electrocuted on the way into the theatre)--is....drumroll please....THE ROCKER. No, not vertically back and forth, but rather side to side like a pendulum: tick-tock all night. When we are seated at City Center, or other wonderful venues with not enough rake or stagger to their seats (most egregious lately was Sadler's Wells--good rake, no stagger), this "avoir dupois challenged' individual proceeds to shift about every 5-10 seconds from side to side, forcing us to do the same in the opposite direction. Or, by leaning VERY far over (painfully twisting our backs) into our suffering neighbor's space in order to try and see around their gyrations.

Thank you for the comment about Giselle and Ali, it made my day. As did my envisioning that 'atomizer'.

#41 Helene



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Posted 30 March 2007 - 02:42 PM

I have a permanent crick in my neck from being in the last row at City Center (before the renovation). It looked like one of those fancy straws where there are several spirals in the middle. Just from trying to gain a glance at the stage from all of the heads in the way.

#42 carbro


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Posted 30 March 2007 - 03:50 PM

Helene, I have a friend who orders only the last-row at City Center so she can have the option, if necessary, of leaning against her unopened seat. I have made other specific requests to ensure unobstructed sightlines in that theater (which seats can still be counted on my fingers and toes).

I've had very good luck with leaners-forward of late. One polite request. If they are leaning because the person in front of them is, then they pass the request on. Everyone's complied cheerfully. I wonder if I've entered a parallel universe.

#43 artist


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Posted 30 March 2007 - 04:23 PM

I remember somebody humming along with the orchestra at a performance of Sleeping Beauty...or was it Nutz?

I've done this accidentally -- it's very embarrassing.

Me, too.

That makes three of us.

One thing that made me mad was when I visited London 2 years ago and had the honor to see RB at the ROH, I was firmly informed to take no pictures whatsoever, even an hour before the performance in the lobby area, as a respect for others so it doesn't look like a recreational theatre. But inside during the curtain call with Sylvie Guillem and Le Riche, someone in the middle of the theatre flashed their camera. Did any usher come to tell them off? No.

#44 bart


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Posted 30 March 2007 - 07:50 PM

Lots of good advice here. Thanks to all.

I wish I had the courage to speak directly to the culprits in these situations. :) I seem to lack the genes. :blink:

I have developed, however, a loud and startling SHOOSSHH! which sometimes works. An advantage of this, for those of us who are non-confrontational, is that you can do it without moving your lips or head. It's a kind of "SHUT UP" for ventriloquists. :innocent:

My most recent use of this technique was during last Saturday's simulcast of Barbiere di Siviglia. The woman to my left kept explaining the action to her male companion. She did so, however, only during recitatives, which apparently do not count as part of the music. I let go a particularly vicious SHOOSSHH!! She stopped and remained silent for the rest of the act. At intermission, she switched seats with her companion. She was mute for the rest of the opera. :grinning-smiley-001:

#45 Giannina


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Posted 31 March 2007 - 05:31 AM

Leaning forward seems to be growing in behavior. I get the feeling that the lean-forwarders think that they show a more intense connection with what's going on. The fact that they drive those behind to madness may foster my derisive explanation. Hate 'em.

However I have to admit to a maddening knee-jerk reaction that I can't stem. When there's a miss-step/accident/fall/ mistake on stage I let out an audible gasp. It's out of me before I can stop it, and I don't know how to curb this reaction. I hate myself, and I'm sure everyone around me does too. I mean I'm LOUD!

On there other hand there is an audience reaction to a particularly beautifully well-done passage that I find very "balletic". It's a group, emotional "Ummmm", followed by a slight pause as we collect ourselves, and then an applause. Love it!


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