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Rules on how to behave in the theatre


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#46 Jayne

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 11:11 PM

As a university student, the nearby theatre had a young mothers' room at the back. It had windows to watch the screening and piped in sound. The mothers could settle down infants without disruption. My childhood church had a similar room.

I wonder if this could work for fine arts?

#47 carbro

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 11:40 PM

When Contact was playing at Lincoln Center, the stage projected out into the audience, so the actors were right there in front of the spectators in the first couple of rows.

I was seated in the front row, as the audience quieted and the dancers took their places for the start of the second act, a man near me (from whom, for the purposes of this anecdote, I disavow any acquaintance) indicated the dancer seated about seven feet away from us and in his regular, conversational voice said, "She's not very attractive, is she?" :blush: I have no doubt that she heard. If she's reading this, I apologize on behalf of the gentleman (as he is, 99% of the time, very well mannered -- even chivalrous).


Another example, a regular attender who is prone to going into insulin shock during performances, requiring EMT services during performance. The patron tends to sit up front and center in the orchestra. Our theater staff is aware of this problem, but the person involved loves going to performances and is not amenable to suggestions about sitting elsewhere or staying at home. So what can one do?

Since this patron and his condition is known to the staff, if I were the box office manager, I would refuse to sell him tickets that were not either in the last two rows or the seats at the end of the outside aisles (assuming there are outside aisles). It is not his prerogative to cause such a predictable disruption to the entire orchestra section. If this keeps him at home, so be it. I wonder how many subscribers have changed their dates to avoid being in the same audience as this fellow.

#48 volcanohunter

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 01:01 AM

When Contact was playing at Lincoln Center, the stage projected out into the audience, so the actors were right there in front of the spectators in the first couple of rows.

I was seated in the front row, as the audience quieted and the dancers took their places for the start of the second act, a man near me (from whom, for the purposes of this anecdote, I disavow any acquaintance) indicated the dancer seated about seven feet away from us and in his regular, conversational voice said, "She's not very attractive, is she?" :blush: I have no doubt that she heard. If she's reading this, I apologize on behalf of the gentleman (as he is, 99% of the time, very well mannered -- even chivalrous).

I once attended a performance of Claude Magnier's comedy Blaise which includes a scene in which the hero, a painter, is trying to persuade a reluctant model to pose in the nude. The actress was standing on a stool and wearing a crochet shawl, and at that point an elderly man in the second or third row pulled out his binoculars and aimed them straight at her. He was so excited he was practically twitching. The irony was that the actress never actually took off the shawl, not at this performance and presumably not at any other either, which didn't stop the old geezer.

#49 GWTW

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 03:20 AM

Going back to the beginning of the thread and the Tilson Thomas anecdote, what would you think about a conductor who went on with the show even though he knew that an audience member was suffering from a severe medical event and was being treated in the auditorium? Itzhak Perlman decided to continue a recent concert of the Israel Philharmonic "so as not to alarm the audience". The audience member was eventually removed from the auditorium and taken to hospital, where he later died. I don't know quite how much of a disturbance was created, but basically I thought Perlman's decision was the right one.

http://www.haaretz.c...es/1158622.html

#50 Mel Johnson

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 03:49 AM

Supplementary Rule: After throttling an annoying seatmate, it is not permissible to hang the body from a parterre box without the permission of the boxholder(s).

#51 allegromezzo18

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 03:52 AM

Is it acceptable to drink water from a bottle at a performance? Should one "unscrew" the cap before or during the performance? Is it acceptable to eat a fig newton during a performance?

#52 Simon G

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 04:05 AM

Supplementary Rule: After throttling an annoying seatmate, it is not permissible to hang the body from a parterre box without the permission of the boxholder(s).



Mel,

Yes. But could you kindly wait until the intermission.

#53 Simon G

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 04:07 AM

Is it acceptable to drink water from a bottle at a performance? Should one "unscrew" the cap before or during the performance? Is it acceptable to eat a fig newton during a performance?


Fig newtons, no. Garibaldis, yes.

If you can also gently unscrew the bottle one half turn before entering the theatre, so that the cap is running loosely along the threads, and during the show requires no more than a gentle half twist, then that can be permissable.

#54 richard53dog

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 04:49 AM

Is it acceptable to drink water from a bottle at a performance? Should one "unscrew" the cap before or during the performance? Is it acceptable to eat a fig newton during a performance?


Fig newtons, no. Garibaldis, yes.

If you can also gently unscrew the bottle one half turn before entering the theatre, so that the cap is running loosely along the threads, and during the show requires no more than a gentle half twist, then that can be permissable.



I think a blanket "no eating, no drinking" direction is best. Once you start splitting hairs by saying bottled water is ok, then what's wrong with a cup of coffee or a cocktail with ice clinking away? And it's fine to say well it's ok to eat a hard candy if you unwrap it ahead of time but an awful lot of people don't "get" careful distinctions. They'll go digging in their plastic bags looking through a grab bag of items, find the bag of candies, rip it open, probably drop a few on the floor and then start unwrapping them. Or the water bottle top, which is partially unscrewed, will go rolling on the floor under the seats.

People can be really DENSE. Keep it simple. How difficult is it to understand "turn off your cell phone"? And we all have experience with how ineffective that directive is.

#55 papeetepatrick

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 07:57 AM

so that the cap is running loosely along the threads, and during the show requires no more than a gentle half twist, then that can be permissable.


We find this extremely refined as well as meritorious and practical...

#56 Mel Johnson

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 08:19 AM

Water, no, champagne yes, but open the bottle before entering the theater. Better yet, eat a croquembouche before the curtain rises. That way, your mouth will be glued shut from the caramel, and no one will be able to accuse you of talking during the show. And always remember, soaking your feet during the performance is bad form, except in the Family Circle.

#57 papeetepatrick

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 08:59 AM

If you don't have croquembouche, you might try your TEETHRAYKIT tray from Vibrant Smile's Trial Offer, which I just have begun to employ so as to achieve a Celebrity Bright Smile (be careful, they lie on their offer, and charge a $142 subscription fee, resorting to fake T & C when you call to 'cancel', although you end up getting it for $1.99 if you win your case against the charge as I did). This way, you wouldn't dare open your mouth for anything because the gel is precious and you know it had better work!

I think that's so comfortable, hearing about Epsom's Salts used in the Family Circle. 'A bit like taking off your wellies', as was once said in one of the BBC sitcoms.

#58 dirac

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 09:02 AM

Going back to the beginning of the thread and the Tilson Thomas anecdote, what would you think about a conductor who went on with the show even though he knew that an audience member was suffering from a severe medical event and was being treated in the auditorium? Itzhak Perlman decided to continue a recent concert of the Israel Philharmonic "so as not to alarm the audience". The audience member was eventually removed from the auditorium and taken to hospital, where he later died. I don't know quite how much of a disturbance was created, but basically I thought Perlman's decision was the right one.

http://www.haaretz.c...es/1158622.html


GWTW, Perlman was right and so would the conductor who decided to carry on and I think that would be true even if some poor fellow had a massive heart attack and died on the spot. The theater personnel should get the ailing person/corpse out of there as quickly and discreetly as possible with as minimal interruption to the performance as possible.

I think a blanket "no eating, no drinking" direction is best.


Couldn't agree more, richard53dog. Talk about a slippery slope.

#59 Mel Johnson

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 09:19 AM

There's even a protocol among musicians for what to do if the CONDUCTOR keels over dead on the podium. The concertmaster takes over.

#60 dirac

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 09:35 AM

As a university student, the nearby theatre had a young mothers' room at the back. It had windows to watch the screening and piped in sound. The mothers could settle down infants without disruption. My childhood church had a similar room.

I wonder if this could work for fine arts?


That's an interesting idea, Jayne, but 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.


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