ord7916

Audience Behavior

49 posts in this topic

Hi,

I just returned from the ABT Gala Opening. As far as I remember, this was my first ever ballet and my first time at the MET since 1985.

What struck me most was the bad behavior of the audience. People kept lighting up flashlights in the middle of the performance to read the programs. It must have happened at least 20 times. Do they not see anything wrong with that? And then there were those who kept talking and had to be told more than once to be quiet. And others taking flash pictures during the curtain calls.

Is this common at the ballet and the MET? It certainly doesn't happen in Broadway theaters. I really thought they'd be much stricter in enforcing the no electronic or recording devices rules.

For those of us who are easily distracted, it was quite distracting.

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I find this distracting as well, people turn off their ringers, but leave the phones on. So when someone calls or texts, their phones light up!

If someone has to communicate that badly, then exchange tickets for a different night when ballet may have undivided attention.

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There's bad behavior all over, I'm afraid. At a diner this very evening, someone was playing a game on her phone, and the tones were loud and intrusive. Finally, when a waiter asked her to lower the volume, she took great offense, oblivious to the other customers who didn't appreciate the noise.

We have several threads around the board about bad audience behavior. I suspect that if the ushers were lax at ABT tonight, it was because the audience was full of donors, and the company didn't want to offend anyone who might be a major donor. Of course, there are others, like you, who might leave the performance having had a bad experience. I hope this doesn't get in the way of your returning to ballet.

Welcome to BalletAlert!, ord7916. shake2.gif

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I've got one that I think takes the prize. I've seen this several times at the Met during ABT season over the years. Women take their bare feet out of their sandals and then put their bare feet on their seat or the seat in front of them. Disgusting.

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Things have gotten bad. Phone cameras are out snapping pics (with flash) at performances. This happened at the Mariinsky too, and it was not an isolated incident. You could see phones being held up throughout the performances.

I once attended a La Traviata (opera) in Miami where the audience acted like the Preludio was mood music and they were coming and going like Grand Central Station.

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We have discussed audience behavior over the years on Ballet Alert!

Even one about when management is in the audience:

I've noticed that audience behavior has been an occasional hot topic at ever performing arts or sports discussion group I've seen: you're not alone in your concerns.

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Finally, when a waiter asked her to lower the volume, she took great offense, oblivious to the other customers who didn't appreciate the noise.

That would have been a great time for you to have spoken up and support the waiter by saying: "You may think the waiter doesn't have the right to tell you to be quiet, but I as another customer surely do; so tone it down".......adding the word "please" at the end is optional :).

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I was just listening on the WXQR website to an episode of "The Vocal Scene" from May 12, 1977 called "To Vienna, With Love," and at the end of it, George Jellinek said, after a mention of the downside of the city's artistic history,

But in an age like ours, threatened by the mentally crippling affects of mass technology and the deadening signs of creeping vulgarity, Vienna appears like a pleasing outpost where old values and old manners are still appreciated. Someday it will arrive in the 20th century. I imagine it will be at a time when the rest of the world will reach the 21st.

I don't think Mr. Jellinek anticipated the Internet and international cable TV.

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After all my traveling, i declare Miami the top jewel of the bad audience behavior crown. All the way from theater management polices down, late comers constantly interrupting ballets, galas etc...candy wrappers being slowly unfolded and folded all over the place, cell phones and electronic devices on,along with ring tones sounding during concerts, full scale text messaging, and so on and so forth. Overtures...? Please, that's time to kill and talk and eat and drink before the "show"-(the word "performance" is non existent over here)-starts...Situation is so bad in the sunchining state, that Michael Tilson once loudly crashed his baton against the music stand, interrupted the orchestra, turned around and screamed at the cell phone offender.."You turn that thing off ...NOW!!!!"

Shame...? Maybe to some...but many others laughed-(let's link this to the laughing thing of that other thread)- at the incident. Bienvenido a Miami!

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epic - this should be at every theatre in the world

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epic - this should be at every theatre in the world

Absolutely!!

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I have to say that I was shocked to hear so much talking during performances at the Mariinsky, and it was mostly Russian that I heard at all my performances which surprised me. I thought for sure they would be better than American audiences. The Germans, French, and English people I heard around me were silent when the curtain went up. Whenever I heard voices talking it was Russian.

I think cell phones are a major problem in America. That is the main disruption. Same with candy wrappers. For some reason people think unwrapping it slowly helps but it actually makes the disruption last longer! Anyway, I think noise like that is omnipresent, as Cristian says, here in Florida. But I think actual talking during performances is a lot less than at the Mariinsky!

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Does Carnegie Hall still have containers of free Ricola drops on every level? I thought that was a great idea since the Ricola wrappers are waxy paper and make less noise that the crunch and crinkle of cellophane.

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Yes Carnegie still has the Ricola drops.

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We have discussed audience behavior over the years on Ballet Alert!

http://balletalert.i...ience-behavior/

http://balletalert.i...n-the-audience/

http://balletalert.i...ence-etiquette/

http://balletalert.i...etiquette-rant/

Even one about when management is in the audience:

http://balletalert.i...n-from-the-top/

I've noticed that audience behavior has been an occasional hot topic at ever performing arts or sports discussion group I've seen: you're not alone in your concerns.

Maybe we should combine the threads?

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I'd say we are pretty lucky here in Seattle. I go to lots of ballet, opera, play, and occasionally symphony performances, and only occasionally do I observe this sort of thing beyond very minor, short lived infractions (certainly not anything like cubanmiamiboy describes in Miami).

All the things mentioned above do happen in Seattle, but not all that often. There is talking during overtures, but normally only at the start and almost always in hushed voices. Candy wrappers happen, but it is practically non-existent (OTOH, woman -- usually elderly -- going thru purses is pretty common anytime). Cell phone light is very hit and miss -- I only notice it if I sit high in the house (except during the first 30 seconds after the lights go down when you see the phone lights blinking off here, there and everywhere). Phones ringing is rare...and treated by nearly everyone as a sacrilege. I must admit (with some embarrassment for doing some profiling) that when I hear voices above a whisper during a performance, it is often Russian that I hear (I've been assuming that the culture in Russian speaking countries is OK with this.....after all in Shakespeare's day people considered The Globe to be a place to eat, visit, and talk incessantly).

I'll say one thing, if I observe any of this behavior near me that lasts beyond a quick indiscretion, I don't hesitate to say something, tap someone on the arm, glare with a disapproving face, or whatever it takes......sometimes quite pointedly. I can tell you it works.....and I feel no guilt for doing this.

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I'd say we are pretty lucky here in Seattle. I go to lots of ballet, opera, play, and occasionally symphony performances, and only occasionally do I observe this sort of thing beyond very minor, short lived infractions (certainly not anything like cubanmiamiboy describes in Miami)...

We do get a lot of coughing in the wintertime, though. Perhaps a few cough drops wouldn't be a bad idea...

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Combining the threads means they will be merged by date, and posts that appear directly under another and address that post without a quote in a single thread will make little sense with posts from other threads in between them.

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sandik, you are right about that!! Sometimes I can't believe the coughing. Somehow coughing is excusable in many folk's sense of ethics. I guess because it is sickness and presumably one can't help it, but I don't buy that thinking. I note that even when coughing levels are high, when the program hits a powerful moment, nearly all the coughing stops. Coughing, it seems, is not quite as involuntary as most folks seem to think.

One advantage we seem to have in Seattle (altho perhaps many other cities have this practice too) is that coming late is not allowed. In most houses in this city, the doors are closed 30 or 60 seconds before the lights are fully down. If you come later than that, you sit outside until an intermission. Our main performance hall, McCall Hall, has outside seating with a TV monitor where late comers can sit and watch the performance on the monitor. I can't think of a single time that I've had to stand during a performance to let a late comer squeeze by me on the way to their seat.

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The performance I attended on Monday at the Met was the opening night gala with scenes from six or seven different ballets. So the flashlights were mostly an effort to read the program and see what was what and who was who. Like many others, I was also curious as to exactly what I was watching, but most of us knew to wait until intermission to find out.

I do wish that theaters would do a much better job of reminding the audience of proper conduct. There are usually announcements regarding no cameras or recording devices and to "silence", though not turn off, cellphones. A no texting, emailing, Angry Birds or flashlights announcement would come in handy.

Incidentally, at the Met, there was no announcement at all, just large signs in the lobbies, though most people were too busy trying to spot celebrities to notice.

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sandik, you are right about that!! Sometimes I can't believe the coughing. Somehow coughing is excusable in many folk's sense of ethics. I guess because it is sickness and presumably one can't help it, but I don't buy that thinking. I note that even when coughing levels are high, when the program hits a powerful moment, nearly all the coughing stops. Coughing, it seems, is not quite as involuntary as most folks seem to think.

I used to be more doctrinaire about this, but a few years ago I had to take a medication that had me coughing frequently as a side effect. It was truly uncontrollable. I had some strategies to make it less obnoxious, but I actually had to curtail some of my activities because of it. I know that when people are thoroughly engaged in something, their brains often short-circuit some automatic activities like coughing, but there are people, like I was, who truly cannot suppress it.

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I have been near a woman during an opera at the Met and she got the worst coughing attack, and she was so embarrassed by it but didn't really know what to do b/c she thought leaving would cause people to let her out and block their view, and she kept hoping it would end but finally when her coughing kept going on she left and apologized when she came back for the next act to everyone who had been near her. I felt sorry for her, because she was concerned about others around her and did not mean to cough so much. But I would be lying if I said I was not annoyed at the situation (only because it was an intense coughing fit that would not stop). It was annoying to have a coughing fit going on during the opera, but seeing that she was really embarrassed and upset by her fit made me also feel for her, because I think it can happen to anyone at some point in life. I think her attitude of remorse made it all better for me personally.

So overall I try to be tolerant of things like that. But I really do hate the slow unwrapping of cellophane (which can be helped) and talking during operas and have shushed, but then the person has shushed me back one time which I think takes a lot of nerve. I am more tolerant of talking during ballets since there is no singing and I do not miss any dancing while someone talks, plus most ballet music is not on the same level of Wagner or Verdi or Mozart, but I still think it is rude to talk during performances, but I am less likely to shush at a ballet and much more likely to shush at an opera.

One time another person (not me) shushed someone and the person being shushed got downright belligerent telling the person off who shushed him using profanity. It was really shocking. The back and forth went on a few sentences, until an usher came and they both hushed. So correcting someone's behavior nowadays can create even more disruption because many people have no shame. They act like jerks and if you correct them, they will escalate their behavior. It is like, "How dare you tell me to stop being a jerk to everyone!" It is really absurd!

And I think the other problem is that at least in the U.S. the ushers are almost always little old ladies who are simply volunteers and do not have the desire or personality to take charge and stamp out bad behavior. I suppose if I were doing it for free I would not want to get into a verbal argument with some of the worst offenders.

What's funny is I took a quick picture of the auditorium at NYCB before the show even began because I try to collect theatres that I have visited, and there the usher was on me like white on rice telling me no pics are allowed. The curtain was down and the lights were still up, and I told her I would not take any during the actual performance but apparently you can't even take them beforehand. I turned to my partner and said, "She cracks the whip so I can't take a pic of the auditorium, but watch later comers allowed in! I would rather she crack the whip about that!" and sure enough. A couple of late comers came in......

Oh, well......I don't think there is much we can do.

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Combining the threads means they will be merged by date, and posts that appear directly under another and address that post without a quote in a single thread will make little sense with posts from other threads in between them.

Maybe they could be "pinned" them under a separate subforum?

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Cuban theater golden rule. Patrons cease to have rights over a seat right after the second the lights go down. If someone gets lucky enough to gain access to the auditorium-(a very rare case)-during that very moment, with the lights already off, he/she has to look for an empty seat if there's already someone seated in his lost assigned seat, for which the theater allows for a couple of minutes for the audience to fill out the empty spaces-(moving forward as they want)..

The outcome...? NO LATECOMERS WHATSOEVER.

After those minutes of re arrangement, with doors locked for good and everybody seated and in silence, then the overture starts...

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