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Rules on how to behave in the theatre


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211 replies to this topic

#1 Mashinka

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 02:54 AM

I just loved this and thought I would share it. (important note to SimonG. - this wasn't taken from the Daily Mail)

http://entertainment...icle6535773.ece

Shouldn't 'no peeing against the proscenium arch' be included? After all this is an English list.

#2 Simon G

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 06:13 AM

It wasn't taken from the Daily Mail? Well, I'm sorry, if I can't take umbrage I'm just not interested. The temerity!

#3 bart

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 07:53 AM

Personally, I love the way its starts with good manners and ends in wicked tongue-in-cheek. W.C. Fields would have adored the following:

13 If the child you’re bringing is chatty, gag it. If it’s fidgety, handcuff and shackle it. And if you’re altruistic enough to bring a school party to a Shakespeare matinée, threaten potential wrongdoers with tickets to the next revival of Timon of Athens, to be followed by a ten-page essay on the ethics of Apemantus.

:D :)

Out of curiosity, I rechecked the character of Apemantus, who appears to be the inventor of Insult Comedy:

Timon: Wither art thou going?
Apemantus: To knock out an honest Athenian's brains.
Timon: That's a deed thou'lt die for.
Apemanthus: Right, if doing nothing be death by the law.
...
Timon: How dost thou like this jewel, Apemantus?
Apemantus: Not so well as plain-dealing which will not cost a man a doit.
Timon: What does thou think 'tis worth?
Apemanthus. Not worth my thinking.
...
Painter: You're a dog.
Apemantus: Thy mother's of my generation: what's she, if I be a dog?

[etc. etc.]

To the extent that he cannot deprive himself of the last (invariably negative) word, Apemanthus sounds like a familiar figure in today's angry world.

A plague on thee! thou art too bad to curse.



#4 dirac

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 10:11 AM

Thank you for posting, Mashinka. Endless variations can be played on this particular theme. :D

#5 papeetepatrick

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 10:28 AM

I thought it was ENDLESS. :D

#6 Cygnet

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 12:59 PM

Thanks Mashinka for the link :). Here's the intro to Reese Thompson's review of Vishneva & Gomes' "Romeo & Juliet"
at the Met last month. http://www.ballet.co...0709.htm#bigpic

The following incident shows what happens when Golden Rules 1 & 2 are ignored. *(Bold emphases are mine).

Like any type of theatre, Ballet is a contract between performer and audience. Often when we hear a comic refer to a good crowd, it usually means the audience is supplying a sufficient amount of attention and energy from which he can draw upon to bolster his performance. Theatre (not just ballet) is like a waltz where the artists on stage lead the audience around the floor a few times. If it was a good performance, we (the audience) leave the dance floor slightly dizzy but exhilarated. This is also true for ballet, where the emotion and excitement of an audience responding collectively to great artistic and acrobatic feats can create a sort of electrical current between performer and spectator. And since a lack of energy from the crowd can often sap the energy of artists on stage, a review of a performance is, implicitly, a review of the audience. Which is why I'm sorry to have to begin by saying how incredible it is that anyone, whether they're watching a comic perform in a bar or sitting in the orchestra section of the Metropolitan Opera, would ever answer their cell phone during a performance.

This is what happened during the first act of ABT's Romeo and Juliet. Actually it happened twice. And it was the same woman. I suppose it can happen. I myself, a card carrying Wagnerian, once received a call during those heart-stopping climatic moments of "Die Walkure." I should mention that my ringtone at the time, Gwen Stefani's Hollaback Girl, meshed surprisingly well with Wagner's Magic Fire Music - though not everyone thought so. Needless to say, I was mortified. So I take it for granted, whenever someone's phone rings, that it simply must have slipped that person's mind, and wait patiently for them to fish out their mobile device and shut it off. I don't, however, expect the next thing I hear to be: "Hello?" Even after a blitzkrieg of some of the most violent shushing I've ever heard in my life, I swear I thought I heard the lady-in-question continue by saying: "Sure, I can talk. I'm just at the ballet." Joking aside, the culprit looked well past the age of knowing better and even seemed unapologetic when approached by an usher. I wish I could say that this was the only incident of inappropriate audience noise at the ballet.

:D.

#7 Mike Gunther

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 01:58 PM

The following incident shows what happens when Golden Rules 1 & 2 are ignored...

Is there a permanent BAM (Bad Audience Member) thread? If not, maybe there should be.

I've been told to sit down, in the middle of a standing ovation... chewed out, when I poked awake a snoring patron... swatted, when I tapped somebody's tinkling wrist bracelets...

And nah, I'm not perfect either :D

#8 PeggyR

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 08:02 PM

Many, many, many (this is depressing) years ago, my mother bought tickets for us to hear Arthur Rubinstein. Comes the day of the performance and I still had a bad cough from a long-departed cold. My mother went but made me stay home, not as I assumed out of concern for the health and well-being of her only child ("Oh for heaven's sake, stop being such a baby; you'll live..."), but because she was worried my hacking and wheezing would disturb Rubinstein and/or the audience.

Times have changed, I guess.

#9 Drew

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 09:34 PM

I have a semi-related Rubinstein story: My mother wanted me to hear Rubinstein when I was around ten, not that young but not that old and not exactly a music aficionado: The only tickets available were on stage--she still got them and I attended and enjoyed the concert, but I remember being given repeated lectures beforehand, from her and one of my older siblings, about how I had to sit absolutely still and make no sounds whatsoever, not a cough, not a sniffle...essentially they gave me the impression I should not so much as breathe when Rubinstein was on stage.

I don't recommend that level of strictness when taking children to the ballet, but following the article's suggestion, I am all for shackling children who can't remotely keep still -- I don't mean children who occasionally fidget or move their head to see the dancers or even whisper one or two questions, I mean jump up and down out of their seats, crawl along the floor, get on their mom's lap, get off their mom's lap, stand up, sit down, turn around to face away from the stage and do all of the above repeatedly and non-stop. I am in fact describing almost all I can now remember of a Part/Halberg Swan Lake I attended last year: I finally whisper-pleaded politely to the mother during breaks in the dancing and the person I was with eventually spoke to her rather more forcefully. The mother said nothing, but during intermission, found an usher willing to find them different -- better! -- seats. In fairness it was a children's matinee, so I'm sure she felt we were the ogres, but I note that everywhere else around me were very well behaved children just one of whom got understandably distracted when looking over curiously at this overactive and quite young child who...uh...should not have been there. Again, all for shackling or, at any rate, taking them home at intermission.

Incidentally I was myself taken to see the Bolshoi when I was about the same age or younger than this particular child -- that is, I was around four or five years of age. An older family member could not attend and I was permitted to use the ticket but here, too, only after extended instructions on theater behavior. It makes my family sound unrealistically strict -- but I never experienced it that way, especially when the ballet was in question; I felt I was being given this extraordinary privilege and even as what most would consider a too-young-to-be-at-the-ballet child, I thought the whole experience was just thrilling. I still remember a fragment of that performance...

Actually, it's only pretty extreme cases of poor behavior that I feel comfortable complaining about, since I want ballet to be popular and I'm not always perfect myself--despite all the early lecturing...I often say that the next best thing to having no-one in front of you at a performance is having no one in back of you: you can raise yourself up as much as you like, scratch your itches, cock your head to the side, and shift when you have a cramp -- all without qualms of conscience or fear of being sniffed at!

#10 Helene

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 10:09 PM

After an atrocious incident with a friend's daughter, I won't go to any performance with friends who bring children unless they have voluntarily shared their exit strategy with me and the kid(s) who are old enough to understand, there are enough adults to remove any given child who acts up without destroying the day for the well-behaved children, and the designated adult is willing to eat the $X tickets after 10 minutes if s/he has to, the odds for which are quite high if the child is under 4 or 5.

What's most shocking is that some of my friends have been quite willing to do this, despite my lack of sympathy.

#11 bart

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 03:23 AM

Re: talking young children to the theater:

... only after extended instructions on theater behavior.


... [not]unless they have voluntarily shared their exit strategy with me and the kid(s) who are old enough to understand, there are enough adults to remove any given child who acts up without destroying the day for the well-behaved children, and the designated adult is willing to eat the $X tickets after 10 minutes if s/he has to, the odds for which are quite high if the child is under 4 or 5.

I remember this kind of preparation, both as a child and as a younger adult taking children to the theater from time to time. Unfortunately, one needs to understand the problem and to know and VALUE the rules before you can teach them to your own children. That is what seems to be missing today.

Drew raises the matter of achieving balance: how do you encourage or even require behavior that respects your neighbors without giving the impression that you are trying to turn everyone into stiff and motionless worshipers at Bayreuth?

#12 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 12:37 PM

Oh...it didn't matter where was I as a kid, either at a theater, cinema or my parent's friends house...I only had to get "The Look" from my father-(which was something like this :mad: )...and that's it...that would be the end of any programmed sabotaging action on my side...not even words had to be included with "The Look", BTW... :)

#13 YouOverThere

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 08:52 PM

I'm all in favor of having a minimum age for performances. In Denver, some theatre companies do this (typically 6 years old) but none of the dance or music organizations do (at least none of those that I attend). It's become increasingly common for people to bring infants to the symphony (even if they aren't playng any Mozart), which perplexes me. The best case scenario is that the parents will notice the warning signs before the actually crying commences, but that still means that one of them will have to hang out in the lobby for 3/4 of the concert.

#14 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 18 April 2010 - 06:32 PM

Last night I happened to witness a shocking scene that needs to be recounted in this thread. I was attending a night at the New World Symphony, where right after the intermezzo its director Michael Tilson Thomas was to conduct the orchestra in Dvorák's "Symphony No. 8 in G major". Now, as we know, the second movement of this wonderful symphony is a very subtle, low, almost imperceptible Adagio, which requires just almost a contention in one's own breathing in order to be able to listen to the notes. I was, as usual, reclined in my chair in almost another world, eyes semi-closed when suddenly a super loud crash resonated in the auditorium, to which the orchestra stopped. I stood up right away just to see Mr. Tilson turn around, and with his baton in hand still fresh from hitting it against his music sheet to stop the orchestra, and with furious, piercing eyes he looked down to the first raw and shouted "Turn if off...NOW!!!".
Yes, it had been the sound of a cell phone-(not sure if in a texting situation or a ring, but I'm inclined to think it was the first one, because I did not hear any ringing...).
I had NEVER seen something like that before...the whole place was dead silence-(a packed house)-and after the offender had done what ordered, Mr. Tilson slowly turned around and proceeded to start the Adagio all over again.
Even if I wasn't the owner of the cell phone, I felt very embarrassed...

#15 dirac

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Posted 18 April 2010 - 07:09 PM

Thanks for that story, cubanmiamiboy. Sounds as if it wasn't the first time Tilson Thomas had been distracted by a phone or PDA in the front rows.


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