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Audience behavior

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Has anyone else experienced an "Artistically-Moved Sigher" as an audience-neighbor?

Yes. Definitely yes.

Was I too harsh with this "Artistically-Moved" individual?
No. Definitely no.
What else could I have done?
She put a friendly (to her) bodyguard between her and you, and you couldn't accidentally drop a 20 lb. purse on her foot, preferably with laptop. I don't think there's much you could have done.
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Somebody nervier than I :blink: might try the Annie Get Your Gun approach: Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better. To her sigh, you SIGH. To her oooooh, you :) , etc., etc., ad nauseum.

Somehow, though, Natalia, I doubt that's your style. Plus, these things usually go over the offender's head, not to mention bother even more patrons.

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To be honest, I can be a bit of a 'Artistically-Moved Sigher.' :)

However, I do it relatively infrequently, and when I do catch myself, I make a strong attempt to stop it. Clearly, this lady did none of those things.

Certainly you were within your rights to say something, altho saying "I feel I need to tell you that I find your sounds and movements very distracting. I can't enjoy the ballet as I'd like. What should we do?" might have been more effective. OTOH, if she was sitting next to me, I'd probably be so angry that I would not have been able to speak such enlighted sentences either. :blink:

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Natalia, your woman's soul-sister sits next to me at one of the matinee subscriptions to Miami City Ballet.

She is less of a sigher and more of a grunter. "Ehh." "Ooof." "Oh, no." She is also something of a dance critic. "Look at his feet. Look at those feet." To be fair, this trails off into silence after about 5 or so minutes. I've been hesitant to say anything because one of her favorite conversational responses during intermission (spoken to the unrelated person who sits to her right) seems to be "WHATEVER!!!"

These are lynching offences at Bayreuth. But increasingly they are inescapable parts of our modern culture, where so much of our entertainment comes through tv in the privacy of our living rooms. ("I talk to the trees/ but they don't listen to me" has become "I talk to the screen/ and I don't give a damn whether anyone is listening or not.")

Like Sandy, I sometimes have the urge to respond orally to ballet performances -- though it's usually what I imagine to be whispers of delight. A bigger problem is sometimes wanting to move my hands, arms, and legs along with the dancing, and an occasional tendency to bounce up and down. Ever so slightly.

That's why my favorite seat for most performances is an arm chair in a box with no one to my right, and someone who knows and tolerates me very well on my left. :)

P.S. Thanks, Sandy, for your suggestion of how to respond. I hope I remember it next season if she and I have the same seat assignments. :o:blink:

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I hate to be a curmudgeon, but... In Denver, it's just been in the last couple years that people have started bringing babies and pre-school children to the ballet and symphony. The results have usually been predictable. On Sunday at Dracula, a pre-schooler on the other side of the aisle talked the entire second act. I was going to say something to the parents during the intermission, but the usher was joking with them so I figured that I wouldn't get any support.

You're not being a curmudgeon. And as you note, it's hard to say anything without being publicly branded as a child-loathing monster.

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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...)

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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.

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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".

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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.

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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!"


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....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!

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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'.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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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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.

Oh,I hate this!

It can cause a domino effect.

Generally a few minutes after the curtain is up, if someone ahead of me is still leaning forward , I tap them on the shoulder and ask them to sit back. This usually works.

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And then there's the opposite: those that never move at all, are completely nonresponsive, applaud tepidly, if at all, when the curtain falls, and file out stolidly, silently, when they have endured enough.

They tend to flock together in groups - little black holes of negative energy. I call them (privately) the "sitting dead" and am planning to ask for different seats for one subscription next season.

Why ... are ... they ... there ??? Better a fidgeter. Better even someone taking a snooze. At least they are reacting to what is happening on stage.

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And then there is.....

Audiences here in Seattle have a bad habit (IMO) of giving standing ovations for almost any performance (especially theater plays). But.....what I think is really going on is that there is this large-ish group of people who want to get to their cars in parking garages before the rush. They stand up as soon as the curtain drops, and then Seattlittes, being very polite as we are, figure: "Oh, it's a standing ovation, I better stand". The result is a mish-mash of applauding standers, and others pushing and shoving to get out (even before the house lights come up).

My God, those performers just gave their all, and our main concern is to save 10 minutes in the parking garage???

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I agree with Bart. The Living Dead bother me at least as much as seat-kickers, hummers, et. al. Worst of the lot are those who sit silently through a performance and get up to leave before the houselights come up, making lots of knee-contact on their way out. Almost as bad was the couple who sat next to me at one of my NYCB subscriptions for a few years. They never discussed the ballet, as far as I could tell, but when it was over, the man would ask the woman, "Did you like that?" She would answer yes or no, and that would be the end of it.

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My God, those performers just gave their all, and our main concern is to save 10 minutes in the parking garage???
25 minutes in a fume-filled garage, and then who knows how many more in the Mercer mess.

I attend the Q&A's, so that's not an issue, and I head in the opposite direction of Mercer. But I can appreciate how the experience of two plus hours of beautiful dancing (or opera or symphony) can be ruined by a hell commute home.

I think you're right about the Simon Says aspect of standing ovations, especially at the Opera House, where the lights are down. (Although, in NYC a couple of years ago, my best friend and I were glared at two days in a row for not giving Vanessa Redgrave a standing O for Long Day's Journey Into Night and for all of Movin' Out. So I'm not sure it's better there.) But at the symphony, where there is brighter lighting, and no orchestra pit to separate the front row from the stage, it seems like the front rows are up on their feet before the reverb ends. (And, because the lights are up enough, the only people who leave usually skulk out, bent over.)

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