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One last point about the 19th century. The Funambules (the theater of Enfants du Paradis) was specifically a popular theater aiming to reach out to a popular audience. Behavior at the Opera was quite different, of course, though equally distracting in its own way with all the coming and going, private chit-chat, and ogling of the ballerinas. :)

Going a bit backwards, to the 18th century, it was quite common to provide overflow audience with standing room on the stage in front of the sets, so that the actors had to make their entrances and exits by wending their way around the spectators. There's a story about Voltaire -- backstage for the performance of one of his plays -- having to disengage an actor's long flowing robe from under a spectator's feet and finding himself pulled out in front of the audience in the unprogrammed role of train-bearer. Voltaire hammed it up, even though the play was a tragedy. Talk about distraction. :)

Smaller cities in the U.S. nowadays generally have large and often quite luxurious theaters that program opera and pop in equal measure. At the Kravis Center in our town, there is no problem with audiences for more serious work. There the Wagnerian model -- you VILL sit in silence -- reigns, and I am grateful for it. Ushers are stationed at every door to remind the uninitiated that food and drink are not permitted in the auditorium. At some other events, however, this is less easy to control, especially with a team of largely elderly volunteer ushers. As a result, there have been more than a few disputes with audience members who simply do not accept or even understand the rules.

Different audiences have different ideas about what constitutes acceptable theater behavior. It's up to the management to decide which model they prefer ... and then to implement it.

Following one of Simon's earlier suggestions, it does sound as though certain London theaters are playing this situation up for publicity. If the play isn't doing well, you can always make a show out of the "audience." ("Blood, guts, violence, passion! Who knew that Mary Poppins could be so thrilling! Half-price tickets -- and full-price beer -- available!")

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Why do the ushers prevent people from taking photos in the MetOpera - not only during the performance, but any time and anywhere?

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Calm down. I am not a Daily Mail reader nor am I a Guardian reader for that matter, however part of my work is with a press office and although we employ a professional press cutting agency, they are less efficient at digging out articles on the web. When things are quiet, such as now when parliament is in recess, I trawl the sites for relevant articles and sometimes come across interesting pieces such as the one I posted.

Okay, . Mashinka, I have no need to calm down, I was joking, do you actually think I'm the kind of person to use "temerity" and mean it? Though you do seem to like trawling for nuggets of misery of depravity. Which is essentially my point you can find an example or several hundred to justify and back up anything and in doing so detract from the whole. You think London is a hotbed of filthy, depraved excess, moral iniquity and frenzied, knife toting hoodies. I take a more moderate view. Chaque un a son gout - I prefer my taste, it means I don't see the worst in humanity and London, which for all it's shortcomings is great and still is.

Again you miss the point, people have paid good money for a night out regardless of the fact their personal taste in entertainment is far removed from your own, they still have the right to enjoy their night out

Actually Mashinka I think you miss the point. I 100% agree that everyone deserves to enjoy what they pay for, no matter what the show. However there was a strange dichotomy here where the story of a one-off man peeing at A Little Night Music was treated as some kind of urine soaked barometer for the decline of western civilisation. Peeing at Sondheim!!!!. I do think it's gross, yes, but it was a one off from a rather troubled man and won't unleash a Tsunami of urine flooding the theatres of London.

And can I be perfectly honest, as gross as the story is, I think it's quite funny, it's just so inappropriate. I think Mashinka you need to lighten up a little.

Those bouncers aren't in every performance, nor are they in theatres throughout London, but in a couple of shows which are more like pop concerts and on certain nights. Why can't you accept that this isn't such a big deal? They're there to encourage good behaviour. It's a problem for which the theatre managers have found a solution. What more is there to say?

Surely the point of this anecdote is that it illustrates the levels certain audience members have sunk to.

NO, Mashinka, no. It illustrates the level ONE man, one solitary individual sank to. No more, no less and if he is that strange, do you think he confines this behaviour to theatres alone? It says a great deal for the man, but NOTHING for theatre goers as a demographic.

I imagine a lot of people must have witnessed that and were too embarrassed to do anything. Ideally someone should have alerted an usher, it is technically an act of gross indecency and a criminal offence. The Opera House would have been within its rights to press charges and a spot of name and shaming in the press

It was gross, nasty, but what would have been the point? How would charges have been pressed. If the police had been called it would have been mid performance, we would all have had to give statements, are two cretins really worth it? It took a while before we realised what was going on, they were discreet, to a point. And really who did they hurt? With behaviour like this it's best to ignore it, to credit it as being anything worth prosecuting, to credit idiots like that with enough importance to have upset you is giving them far, far far too much power.

And do you really think it's only in London where people have inappropriate "relations"?

Well I’ve seen Godot at the National in the past and was planning on taking a friend who sobbed his heart out when Michael Jackson died to see Thriller. Having read the article though, I’ve changed my mind about that.

Well, I think that's very sad Mashinka. To deny yourself pleasure and going to see a show with a friend that you both might enjoy on the back of one rather immoderate feature article is hurting no one but yourself. If you're that concerned ring the theatre or the Lyric Theatre's mangement company and ask to speak to the theatre manager about your concerns before booking tickets.

Well this woman has been mugged by two youths just yards from her front door. It may be illegal to ‘pee, poo have sex in the streets’ but that doesn’t stop people doing it. I imagine there has never been what you describe as a crime free Utopia, but there was a time in the 1950’s, 60’s and part of the 70’s when it was unusual to find anyone who had been a victim of crime now it is highly unusual to find anyone who has not been a victim of crime.
Simon, you do appear to have a serious hang up about the Daily Mail don’t you? A former colleague of mine is married to a ‘Father of the Chapel’ who has a rabid hatred of Rupert Murdoch and all his works. That I can understand, but what is your excuse?

Do I need to have an excuse? Or justify my deep, deep, deep dislike for the Mail? It's not a hang up, it's a totally reasonable reaction to a filthy right wing rag. Though there are millions of Daily Mail readers who'd disagree, but they're wrong and I'm right, because I'm right about absolutely everything.

Mashinka, I'm sorry for your experiences and I'm not lessening them, but what can one say? Yes, we've all seen pretty horrendous stuff but I do firmly believe it's how one reacts to it that defines one as a victim. I'm sorry but I don't believe in the inherent evil of teenagers in hoodies, of humanity as a whole, though I'm not naive and I can also find a hundred examples which could blow my beliefs out the water if I let it.

I think that woman was rather stupid to make you feel scared and threatened about a trip you take regularly - and says a great deal more about her than you. And that's why I think that Daily Mail article is equally grotty, it's making an issue out of a collection of one offs and exceptional circumstances and claiming it as an indication of the disintegration of society.

On a related note you know that church in Covent Garden? One late afternoon I was using the short cut between the two streets via the church courtyard. There was pretty much no one else there and as I reached the gate on the other side to exit onto the street there was a huge gaggle of hoodied youths blocking the way talking amongst themselves. The very kind the Daily Mail regularly blames for all the UK's ills. As I approached them, I did wonder whether something was going to happen, well of course that thought does cross one's mind, "are they looking for trouble", no matter how moderate one is, you do respond to hype and tripe in the media. Anyway, one of the boys looked up, saw me approaching and suddenly said to his friends who were blocking my exit "oi, get out of his way" and the other boys seeing me, stepped aside.

I felt guilty, for putting a load of media-influenced crap onto some teens who were just hanging out talking. This tale is a nothing tale, nothing happens, but it's no less significant than all the tales of misery and more significant because it just reaffirmed what I truly believe that fear is nothing more than a state of mind. And I'll be damned if a load of crap printed to fill out a page in the Daily Mail (and isn't even a proper story but cobbled together tidbits from several sources to make a typically restrained Mail feature) is going to make me afraid when there is nothing to fear.

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Do I need to have an excuse? Or justify my deep, deep, deep dislike for the Mail? It's not a hang up, it's a totally reasonable reaction to a filthy right wing rag. Though there are millions of Daily Mail readers who'd disagree, but they're wrong and I'm right, because I'm right about absolutely everything.

it just reaffirmed what I truly believe that fear is nothing more than a state of mind.

No, while you are 'just joking', so you can get away with it, :) it is important to point out that you are NOT always right, because fear is definitely more than a 'state of mind'. What the hell isn't? who says the American BTers can't cuss too? :)

Thrilling discussion! Keep it up, folks! London must be TERRIBLE! I will NEVER go there again, because it's GONE TO THE DOGS!

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And really who did they hurt? With behaviour like this it's best to ignore it, to credit it as being anything worth prosecuting, to credit idiots like that with enough importance to have upset you is giving them far, far far too much power.

And do you really think it's only in London where people have inappropriate "relations"?

I wouldn't want them taken away in cuffs for a first offense, but behavior like that does cross the line and should be objected to. If you were routinely subjected to the sound and spectacle of couples feeling each other up during performances you might feel less mellow about it.

No, such behavior is certainly not limited to London. Never seen it at the ballet, though.

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OK, If I ever see the expression "tsunami of urine" on the board again I'm shutting it down for 24 hours, and you will find me in a darkened room breathing from a respirator, with a cold compress on my forehead and cucumber slices on my eyes.

Don't chance it :)

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OK, If I ever see the expression "tsunami of urine" on the board again I'm shutting it down for 24 hours, and you will find me in a darkened room breathing from a respirator, with a cold compress on my forehead and cucumber slices on my eyes.

Don't chance it :)

I'm sorry Leigh. Just relax and let it wash over you.

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I smell a sequel to The Poseidon Adventure. And I do mean smell.

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I cannot respond to this because I am too busy clutching my pearls.

I am retiring to my fainting fauteuil. Will someone please revive me when August is over. If I can rouse myself I will be doing crewel embroidery.

Until then, if you wish to contact me, bring smelling salts and orange blossom water.

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NOW I know why they sold raincoats at theaters where they showed dirty movies! (I've only read about these places, of course :) )

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Good Lord! EVERYBODY's going for it! Should be an XXXXcellent opportunity for me to practice uncharacteristic restraint...

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papeetepatrick, PLEASE. Models of restraint are needed :) For me, this turned into a flashback to the old Silly Season that alt.arts.ballet used to go through every August, when there were few performances.

However, this is the time, perhaps, to return to the original topic, which is a serious one.

Has anyone encountered this kind of behavior in theaters? Except for the occasional screaming child, drunk on sugar (you can see the mother stoking the kid at intermission) I haven't.

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I guess it would depend on what is meant by ‘this kind of behavior' and which kind of 'theater.' Mashinka’s original post brought up the issue of whether the behavior of audiences in the U.K. has undergone a sea change for the worse recently, and we can certainly expand the range of the query to this side of the water.

Misbehaving children are in a different league from gentlemen pleasuring each other and peeing in inappropriate locations, though. I can't say that I've seen any change for the worse in manners apart from issues already explored elsewhere on BT - cell phones, etc. And people do insist on bringing their young children almost everywhere these days, I have noticed.

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I'm still thinking about the alcohol issue. Are London theaters this article actually allowing it to be brought into the auditorium, or are they just ignoring it? Is this widespread in London nowadays? Is it going on in New York City or the other big American theater towns?

(This just doesn't seem to come up at serious performances where I live or the European cities -- not including London -- where I've been to concerts and the theater in the past few years.)

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There is no hard and fast rule on this, but in most theatres you can take alcohol into the auditorium so long as it is in plastic glasses. It has to be plastic for health & safety reasons.

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I'm still thinking about the alcohol issue. Are London theaters this article actually allowing it to be brought into the auditorium, or are they just ignoring it? Is this widespread in London nowadays? Is it going on in New York City or the other big American theater towns?

(This just doesn't seem to come up at serious performances where I live or the European cities -- not including London -- where I've been to concerts and the theater in the past few years.)

Bart,

I think that something's getting lost in translation here as we have a new phenomenon of show in London that this article in the Daily Mail is talking about in regards to the introduction of bouncers.

In London for the past few years a genre of "musical" has sprung up in London's West End and this is a musical/show which uses the songs and back catalogue of popular rock/pop groups. The most famous example being of course Mamma Mia which is the only one which has transferred to a wider audience internationally.

This genre also includes musicals based on films such as Dirty Dancing.

These shows are really just pop tribute evenings and attract a mass audience who don't go to the theatre - they are NOT artistic events and even lower down on the sliding scale than say Lloyd Webber. They're cheap, easy to produce and lucrative - the theatre equivalent of American Idol. They're popular nights out and popular with rowdy stag party, hen party crowds for which they were primarily intended and created for.

We have alcohol served in bars in theatres and in keeping with the nature of being a "good night out" yes, people do arrive at these events a little jolly, though sometimes more than a little jolly hence the bouncers being brought in on certain nights when there's a tendency to be rowdier.

However, you can't drink booze in the auditoriums in London.

Regarding the bit in that Daily Mail article which said that the lead in Dirty Dancing doesn't enter through the audience as he's afraid of being ripped to shreds by horny love-up women, well fifty years ago wasn't Elvis Presley in exactly the same position? The Beatles and Stones 40 years ago?

It's really important to take on board the nature of the shows the Mail article was talking about. It's a genre of London based musical which is intended to be an all-out, low low low culture pop music tribute evening.

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Simon, I think you've just explained why I hated "Movin' Out".

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Simon, I think you've just explained why I hated "Movin' Out".

Off topic - I can understand not liking ‘Movin’ Out’ – wasn’t crazy for it myself - but I don’t think Tharp intended creating a show of the kind Simon is describing, although it contains some of the same elements of such shows.

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Why do the ushers prevent people from taking photos in the MetOpera - not only during the performance, but any time and anywhere?

1-Says it on the back of the ticket. Your agree to abide by the contract (ticket) for the nite.

2- Numerous signs throughout the Met say at the bottom that pictures are not allowed in the Opera House.

As a counterpoint, there are still many pictures taken ANYWAY! People ASSUME it is ok to snap away. Ushers are just doing their jobs.

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As a counterpoint, there are still many pictures taken ANYWAY! People ASSUME it is ok to snap away. Ushers are just doing their jobs.

And with cell phones it's much easier to do now. People seem to assume they have a sort of right to do it.

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I'm still thinking about the alcohol issue. Are London theaters this article actually allowing it to be brought into the auditorium, or are they just ignoring it? Is this widespread in London nowadays? Is it going on in New York City or the other big American theater towns?

(This just doesn't seem to come up at serious performances where I live or the European cities -- not including London -- where I've been to concerts and the theater in the past few years.)

Bart,

I think that something's getting lost in translation here as we have a new phenomenon of show in London that this article in the Daily Mail is talking about in regards to the introduction of bouncers.

In London for the past few years a genre of "musical" has sprung up in London's West End and this is a musical/show which uses the songs and back catalogue of popular rock/pop groups. The most famous example being of course Mamma Mia which is the only one which has transferred to a wider audience internationally.

This genre also includes musicals based on films such as Dirty Dancing.

Simon, thank you for that explanation -- I did not realize that (I know it's un-American, but I seldom go to musicals). That explains, too, several articles I've read where the writer is alarmed at a trend by ballet companies over there to make ballet-musicals. Re the guy being mobbed as he runs in the theater, though, the audience at Carnegie Hall was very well behaved when the Beatles played there :clapping: I think a pop star who runs through a theater of screaming people WANTS to be mobbed.

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I think a pop star who runs through a theater of screaming people WANTS to be mobbed.

I know I do.

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Re the guy being mobbed as he runs in the theater, though, the audience at Carnegie Hall was very well behaved when the Beatles played there. I think a pop star who runs through a theater of screaming people WANTS to be mobbed.

It was an actor, not a pop star, who made his entrance through the auditorium in this instance. He was one of the stars of ‘Dirty Dancing’ and he may well have been directed to do so in order to make his appearance more sensational, or it could be in the book as written for the stage. I've seen performers make such entrances and it's not necessarily an invitation to be mobbed. (Had The Beatles tried such a stunt, however stodgy the venue or audience, during those years, they might have put themselves in physical danger. )

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In this case, I think debating whether he was an "actor" or a "pop star" is quibbling :clapping: and that's part of the point of the change in musical theater.

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Respectfully, Alexandra, I don't think it's a quibble at all - it's true that the shows Simon mentions resemble rock concerts in certain aspects but musical theater and concert performances are still distinct. There is a difference between an actor appearing in the audience, or coming through the audience, as part of a show and a pop musician doing something similar. We can agree to disagree on that. :clapping: But my central point was that an actor making such an entrance is not necessarily inviting a mobbing.

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