Mashinka

Rules on how to behave in the theatre

213 posts in this topic

You are all convincing me to be more understanding about of early departures, at intermission and at the end, and also about their multiple and often legitimate causes. Thanks for that.

I was wondering: to what extent are dancers aware of what sometimes can seem to be a mini-exodus? How does it affect them?

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I don't know, bart, but at the risk of sounding callous I have to say that even if the dancers are weeping in the wings and having nervous breakdowns over it there are still going to be times I have to catch that train. I would hope that they would appreciate the time, expense, and effort I invest in coming in for the performance, and if they’re wounded by the occasional early exit, I’ll gladly surrender my season ticket to some more prosperous person who can afford digs closer to the opera house. :wink:

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^^What Dirac said, as long as the people leaving take the other people in the row into consideration, giving them time to stand up to let them by.

I can't remember where I saw this recently, but some organization was selling aisle seats as a separate seating price/section (and not an airline :wink:).

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Recently, I've had problems with neigbors chewing gum -- their jaw action gives rise sometimes to a very small amount of noise that becomes distracting because it is so close to one of my ears and because it is repetitive. Also, if somebody is making sounds while they have a sweet or cough drop in their mouth, that has bothered me when I am seated immediately next to them.

Then, sometimes I have had to stand up for myself, so as to not be completely pushed around when it comes to seat placement position when I'm seated in a box at the Met. I've on a few occaisons needed to delineate where within a box (within the permissible range for my seat) my chair should be positioned, relative to my neighbor's chair or the chair of the person behind me. When I am sometimes seated in the first "row" of the chairs in a box, but arrive late, the people in the next row behind me will sometimes already be in their chairs and will have left less than ideal room for me. Usually, I don't say anything. But if it's unreasonable, I will speak up. This does not happen when I have my seat that is part of a series, understandably.

This seat placement/moving in and out of chairs in boxes is sometimes related to other women placing their handbags, or men placing their bags (as occurs less frequently), in the space between seats. Given how cramped the box already is, a person should courteously lift their bag up and hold it or otherwise remove it, as the intermission begins.

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You are all convincing me to be more understanding about of early departures, at intermission and at the end, and also about their multiple and often legitimate causes. Thanks for that.

bart, you are more generous than I.

This discussion has brought me no closer to overlooking (or "understanding" if one prefers that more neutral word) audience members who leave as the curtain falls, or any time during the applause. Perhaps others are different than I, but when I go to the ballet (or to any performing art) I expect the performers to "put out" at the highest possible level. Much of the difference between a mediocre and a thrilling performance is derived from the willingness of the performers to put their personal concerns aside, and to get themselves into their art (at least while the curtain is up). The absolute least I can do to "give back" is to remain and demonstrate my appreciation (assuming it is deserved....which it almost always is). If I feel it is OK for me to leave due to some personal concern in my life, then I see no reason why I should expect the performers to give their all either. In addition, I don't buy for one second that the few minutes of clapping, hooting, or what have you, after the end of the performance is not important. I've never heard any performer ever say that they didn't love, absolutely love, hearing applause....and lots of it. I've heard more than one perforrmer, and even an artistic director, say when questioned by an audience member, not to worry if one claps at perhaps inappropriate times during a performance.....they say that they love applause, any applause, almost at any time. They admit to never getting enough.

Performing arts has an element of a contract between the performer and the audience. No performer would ever enjoy performing to an empty house....and they certainly would not be able to find the magic it takes to do a transcending performance without an audience present......not an indifferent audience, but a reasonably attentive and appreciative audience. Actually, it seems to me that all performers worth their salt ask for nothing more than that: attention and appreciation. Remarkably little really considering all we audience members ask of them.

I would never leave before the applause stops unless a medical situation was involved. Whatever consideration I might have, I would just handle it. Anything else is little more than a justification in my book.

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Leaving just as intermission starts is sometimes necessary for women, for the reasons stated above regarding lines when using the restroom.

A couple of other considerations that shed light on why women might need to leave shortly after a performance ends for intermission:

-- For women falling within a certain age range, what needs to be accomplished within the restroom facilities may be more than, shall we say, what men would use those facilities for. That adds time. That also means that some women cannot avoid having to have to visit the restrooms during intermissions, even if they deliberately limit their beverage intake before a performance.

-- Women sometimes want to reapply makeup (or at least lipstick) when they are in the restroom. Especially if they are watching the performance with a date or their spouse. If you have to wipe off some of the old makeup before reapplying (eg for concealer), that takes even more time.

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Sandy, I appreciate your consideration of what the performers have given, but I tend to be on the side of those who really do need to leave for a train, etc., and do not think that curtain calls are a part of the performance. Once the dancing is over, the performance is over, basically, as far as i'm concerned. I don't really expect the performers to be contemplating this, but I do think it's fine if people have to get out quickly. The curtain calls are important, but they are not the performance itself IMO. there are still plenty of people who do stay until the applause stops. I usually like an aisle seat, and I often don't stay beyond for the curtain calls, although I sometimes do, esp. if I have extra time and can go down even closer to the performers to get a better look at them.

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Sandy, thanks for reminding us of how much dancers deserve and appreciate applause. If audience members keep their needs in mind, and dancers remember that some people in the audience couldn't attend performances if they couldn't leave early to get home at reasonable hours, we'll have a more perfect world. :wink:

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WARNING....I'm going to be facetious.....

I tend to be on the side of those who really do need to leave for a train.....

I don't live a a big metro area. In Seattle we don't have trains to speak of. So I have a question for you big city folks......how do the train schedulers and the ballet managers coordinate such that the trains so often leave almost exactly the same number of minutes after the curtain goes down regardless of the program length? I would have thought that the 10:40 leaves at 10:40 regardless of whether "Sleeping Beauty" or a program of 3 short works has been programed.

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Well...I understand where Patrick comes...and this is even more justified if one didn't even enjoy the performance-(been there). Now, what I have observed here in Miami-(a large, metropolitan city with a disastrous construction planning/design and non existent public transportation)- is just a full blown, massive stampede of-I would say- the 70 % of the audience to get their cars out of the parking garages around the surroundings of the theater-(which is a mess, due to fact that after $400.000.000 and 5 years delay the Arsht Center HAS NOT A PARKING GARAGE OF ITS OWN)- or to start dealing with the horror of the valet parking line-(which is an absolute nightmare...).

That's why I have opted to go around the area and park in the street-(with the risk of getting your car vandalized in this dangerous area at night time... in the best of the cases...in the worst it can be just gone when you walk out of the performance, like it happened to my mother's :wink: ).

So, I hate the sight of the running patrons..but somehow I understand it.

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I would never leave before the applause stops unless a medical situation was involved. Whatever consideration I might have, I would just handle it. Anything else is little more than a justification in my book.

Usually I don't leave either. Although on occasion I've been forced to wait a good long time for suburban trains and buses, I actually prefer to take my time and avoid the initial crush of people in the subways.

However, if I've really hated a performance and actually made it to the end, I will leave as soon as the curtain's down. The alternative would be to stay and boo, which would a good deal less polite than ducking out in the darkness.

I live in a car-dominated city by virtue of its absurdly huge surface area and long stretches of frigid weather, and I have a feeling that many people opt to leave performances as quickly as possible to avoid spending 30-45 minutes trying to exit the parkades. Whenever I see the seemingly endless rows of cars trying to make their way out of the parking garages, I'm reminded of the opening of Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence:

...To come to the Opera in a Brown coupé was almost as honorable a way of arriving as in one's own carriage; and departure by the same means had the immense advantage of enabling one (with a playful allusion to democratic principles) to scramble into the first Brown conveyance in the line, instead of waiting till the cold-and-gin congested nose of one's own coachman gleamed under the portico of the Academy. It was one of the the great livery-stableman's most masterly intuitions to have discovered that Americans want to get away from amusement even more quickly than they want to get to it.

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volcanohunter,

I fully understand your comments. If I thought the performance was undeserving, I would have no problem leaving at any time. I would have nothing to show my appreciation for. I rarely, if ever, boo.....but I have from time to time refused to applaud. I have many times refused to stand up when most others were doing a Standing O for the simple reason that I didn't think a Standing O was deserved.

Like you, I believe most of getting up just as the curtain starts down, or soon after applause starts, is folks who feel they need to get to their cars in the parking garage in order to avoid the long lines getting out. Frankly, I find it embarrassing to see dozens and dozens of folks moving to the aisles and half running up the long aisles presumably to get home that precious 15 minutes early. Personally, I would never do that. If I didn't like the garage lines, I would find another place to park, or in some other way "handle it" as I say. Indeed before I got the cushy parking arrangement that by chance I now have, I did find another place to park besides the connected parking garage. It requires me to walk further, and to get wetter in our rainy Seattle climate, but I would never solve MY personal issues (except medical) by the expedient of not giving a good performance its due. And as for "reasons"....as one of my favorite literary characters says: "...if reasons were as plentiful as blackberries...." (or was it "blueberries"), in any case, I find that we humans are prolific when it comes to giving reasons.

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WARNING....I'm going to be facetious.....
I tend to be on the side of those who really do need to leave for a train.....

I don't live a a big metro area. In Seattle we don't have trains to speak of. So I have a question for you big city folks......how do the train schedulers and the ballet managers coordinate such that the trains so often leave almost exactly the same number of minutes after the curtain goes down regardless of the program length? I would have thought that the 10:40 leaves at 10:40 regardless of whether "Sleeping Beauty" or a program of 3 short works has been programed.

WARNING....I'm going to respond with no appreciation for facetiousness.....

Unlike opera, especially at the Met where James Levine showers and changes between acts, most ballet programs last about the same amount of time. Peter Martins' "Sleeping Beauty" is taken at the speed of light and has one intermission.

Most triple bills last between two and two and a half hours. Even the big full-lengths with multiple intermissions tend to last three hours, due to union time. There tends to be about an hour difference between the big full-lengths and the triple bills, and train and bus schedules tend to work on the hour. In Seattle, it's not unusual for all of the buses that go to a certain area, like Capitol Hill, to come in clusters instead of being spread out over the half hour or hour, giving people no choice but to stand around in the rain, and who wants to be hanging out in the rain at 11:00pm in downtown Seattle?

I don't know how anyone is willing to come to NYC for a performance knowing that they face an all-nighter; they love the arts way more than I do.

The issue with commuter trains is that many of them, especially with weekend service, switch to hourly after 10pm. When I lived in Freeport, LI, and had a Sunday night subscription to NYCB starting at 7pm, if I didn't get out of the theater, into the subway, on the subway, out of the subway and to the platform by 10:10pm, I was stuck in Penn Station until 11:10pm. In those years at least, there were enough muggings near the Freeport, LI train station after early evening to make it unsafe and no taxis even if I wanted one, and if I missed the 10:10pm train, the person picking me up had to be there at around midnight, which does not contribute to domestic bliss. Also in those days, Penn Station was not air-conditioned, there was no place to sit, and people chain-smoked anywhere they wanted in the station. Being there an extra 55 minutes simply sucked. There were times that for a long program, ending in "Vienna Waltzes" for example, that I wouldn't even bother. Would the dancers rather have empty seats?

With commuter buses, many of them don't run after 10:30-11:00pm even during the week. That meant that when I was in graduate school, if I couldn't get the 10:40pm bus to my town, I had to wait until after 11 at Port Authority (before it was cleaned up) to catch a bus to the next town over, with an additional 25-minute walk. Yes, there were times I skipped performances rather than risk it.

Commuters are locked into schedules. Those people rushing out after the performance on Saturday night may be rushing for the last ferry to Bainbridge for 1.5 hours, or they may face an hour commute to Tacoma.

Seattle is a car city on the whole; my commute from Seattle Center -- to downtown and then back -- is almost two hours by bus, and 20 minutes by car. Without a long commute or ferry to catch, the answer is to attend post-performance Q&A's to avoid the parking garage and Mercer messes. I was reminded of how win/win this is when I tried to get out after "Sleeping Beauty" (after which there are no Q&A's), and sat in 20 minutes of fume-filled parking garage traffic, and that was before driving the Mercer Mess. But I don't have a ferry to catch or a long drive or a babysitter I have to pay $20 an hour or a babysitter I need to drive home before midnight or an elderly dog that needs to be walked or a puppy that's about to tear the house up or a baby to breastfeed or a pile of medications to take on schedule or an elderly parent I'm caring for or all kinds of things that keep people on schedules.

There are plenty of opportunities in most ballets and after all but the last ballet/act to show appreciation to the dancers. I stopped counting after I think five applause interruptions during "Serenade" on Sunday afternoon. Dancers often say in Q&A's -- opera singers as well -- that they can feel the audiences energy (or lack thereof) throughout the performance.

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The issue with commuter trains is that many of them, especially with weekend service, switch to hourly after 10pm.

The train I normally take runs every twenty - thirty minutes or so, but on one occasion I had to use the other train (taking a bus to get to it). Not realizing that the service switched to hourly in the evening, I did not rush to make the eleven o'clock. On that occasion I was unaccompanied and so I was alone in that huge drafty station until midnight with few people around except for some suspicious characters lurking about. I hope I don't scare easy but I was relieved when the train finally arrived.

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Ok, so I see that we are being very diverse about the theater behavior patterns, to the point of mentioning coughing patrons-(which, to be honest, gets on my nerves too as I see that this-as someone mentioned earlier-sometimes sets off a chain reaction). Well, I have a little anecdote to add, and very fresh. The action took place last night during the closing of the Debussy Festival. Mr Tilson-(again)-was conducting, and this time the orchestra was doing a beautiful rendition of "La Mer". I was sitting right on the first row, to the left of Mr. Tilson. Next to me there was a senior patron whom I've seen numerous times in concerts, always sitting on the first row. Well, at some point, during one passage with a marked diminuendo, I started hearing some noises...guttural noises. On my right I had my mom, and next to her there was the mentioned patron, whom I couldn't see very well. The sounds came from him and they kept going on and on at intervals. When I look at my mom with an interrogation gesture, she leaned on and whispered to me..."He's having hipcocks..!" . "Oh my...this is disaster!", I thought, looking at Tilson, who looked extremely concentrated during the passage. A second later, the orchestra reached a crescendo and so the hipcocks sounds got muffled and could not be heard any longer. Thank God, because I though that Tilson was going to have one of his raging moments...

:excl:

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I got spoiled in Chicago where I first began attending opera, ballet and other music events. Back in those antediluvian days the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) ran the trains all night although with sparse schedules after about 11:00PM. Being young I felt indestructible and lived in a pretty slummy area for a while anyway. My my wife usually had Mace or whatever the disabling spray was back then in a pocket (never her purse) and I generally had a short club that folded into a convenient enough package to carry without discomfort. It seems kind of crazy looking back at it now but it is just what you did back then. This was before handguns were everywhere and also before crack had made its appearance. There would be the usual rushing to make the 10:59 PM train to Wilmette but seemingl less than in other cities.

It is very different in Detroit. There are no trains--no communter trains, no subways, no nothing so everyone drives everywhere so there is little excuse for leaving early although it is still pretty common.

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I hope I don't come across as what Calvin Trillin calls a "baby bigot" when I say that the last thing most opera houses probably want to do is encourage parents with infants to show up in significant numbers at the opera, symphony, or ballet. Even if there is a room to which they can retire discreetly until baby or toddler calms down, that still means at least several minutes of screaming or crying that the audience have to listen to until Mom or Dad decides it's time to leave and as you may know not all parents elect to do this in timely fashion.
Just last week I was at a middle priced restaurant, the family on the opposite side allowed their 3 year old to throw a tantrum for 20 minutes before I finally walked over and asked them to take the child to the restroom and quiet him down. Spanish was their primary language, they followed my advice, but they definitely glared at me! I just could not believe the lack of manners to allow a child to disrupt the entire restaurant like that! The waitstaff did zilch.

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Thanks for chiming in, Ed and Jayne. Ah, the hazards involved in leaving the house. :)

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"Gotta tweet mid-play or ballet? Take a 'tweet seat'. by Edward Moyer (December 6, 2011)

"You can't help but wonder what sort of productions we'll begin seeing as more and more performance venues, theater companies, symphony orchestras, and the like begin experimenting with "tweet seats," sections reserved for audience members who just can't tear themselves away from their Twitter feeds."

http://news.cnet.com...e-a-tweet-seat/

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The world is certainly charging ahead quickly. The most astonishing news in the cnet report, to me at least, was this:

And though there aren't tweet seats at the Kennedy Center just yet, it may only be a matter of time: No less an institution than Kennedy Center house band the National Symphony Orchestra got started with Twitter way back in 2009, when it tweeted live commentary during a performance of Beethoven's "Pastoral Symphony." (That was at Virginia's Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts, which lists innovation as a core value.)

[ ... ]

It's often about encouraging real-time, performance-related, Twitter-enabled discussions. And the venues or companies themselves are often participating in the tweeting.

One COULD argue that, for those people who can't or won't sit still and just listen and watch, it's better to have them do express themselves silently.

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One COULD argue that, for those people who can't or won't sit still and just listen and watch, it's better to have them do express themselves silently.

This is terrible! These tweet seats need to be in a separate room and the people can watch the show from a movie screen. I don't understand why people attend a performance and don't want to actually watch it. You can't watch it while typing!

I also wonder why people at the HD transmissions of opera and ballet applaud. I believe in applauding performers but not a movie screen. Applause is for the performers, so when they can't hear it, what is the point? It is no big deal, b/c it is always at the end and not disruptive, but I just wonder what is going on in these people's minds.

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One COULD argue that, for those people who can't or won't sit still and just listen and watch, it's better to have them do express themselves silently.

This is terrible! These tweet seats need to be in a separate room and the people can watch the show from a movie screen. I don't understand why people attend a performance and don't want to actually watch it. You can't watch it while typing!

I also wonder why people at the HD transmissions of opera and ballet applaud. I believe in applauding performers but not a movie screen. Applause is for the performers, so when they can't hear it, what is the point? It is no big deal, b/c it is always at the end and not disruptive, but I just wonder what is going on in these people's minds.

The fact of being carried away by the beauty of performance, live or not...? Then you shoud see me applauding at home by myself with my two kitties as witnesses..! ;-)

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The fact of being carried away by the beauty of performance, live or not...? Then you shoud see me applauding at home by myself with my two kitties as witnesses..! ;-)

Well, that is cute! But I never really understood my father screaming at the tv when he watched football. I have cried or been very moved, but I don't usually applaud unless I am in the same room as the performers. But I guess to each his own LOL

Btw, will be at the Kravis Center on Friday with my mother seeing MCB's Program 1. I will be applauding there! LOL

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I also wonder why people at the HD transmissions of opera and ballet applaud. I believe in applauding performers but not a movie screen. Applause is for the performers, so when they can't hear it, what is the point? It is no big deal, b/c it is always at the end and not disruptive, but I just wonder what is going on in these people's minds.

Well, I'll tell you.

My applause at, lately, Esmeralda and Sleeping Beauty, did not only occur at the end, but after a variation well done or a wonderful PDD, etc. - also at the entrance of David Hallberg, I was so-o excited! - just as I respond at the theatre. I could only have sat still if you'd tied my hands down (although that would leave me grunting in desperation)! My clapping joined the live applause in Moscow and was the accompaniment to my quickened heartbeat, tingling skin, and occasional cries of 'Bravo!'

Several of the Bolshoi dancers I saw I have met over the years as they guested with my daughter's school. To see them performing in principal and key roles was as thrilling as ever. Their every movement was watched with my usual critical eagle's eye, and I winced at their tiny slipups, if there were any, and felt joy at their triumphant executions of steps.

After all, they were performing live for me as well as everyone else watching in the movie theatres and at the Bolshoi. I was reacting live an ocean away and I don't apologize for it nor see anything amiss with it. At Esmeralda, my daughter was with me and we both let the ballet carry us away, despite the frozen non-response of everyone else in the movie theatre.

I wondered about those people - why did they even bother to come if they are so unmoved by it all? The chatter at intermission gave me a clue: most were spouting platitudes to each other, like "weren't the costumes pretty!" and "she's very beautiful, isn't she?" and "I didn't care for the first part at all; it was so slow it almost put me to sleep." I understand that they may not be balletomanes in any degree of the word, but it sounded to me like the performers could have just as well been modeling fashions or doing pantomime.

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