Friday, February 10, 2012

Annoyed, or Guilty?

I'll be the first to admit I am hyper-sensitive to noise, especially in an audience situation. It's a curse. However, I'm realizing this isn't just a personal character flaw.

My daughter and I attended La Cage Au Folles at the Kennedy Center last night (wonderful show!) While perusing the program (after waiting as long as possible to take my seat to avoid loud conversations and seat kickings), I came upon the following guidelines for audience etiquette. It was prefaced by a paragraph claiming that American audiences have a particularly bad rep as audience members. I can only cite my own experiences stateside and can't compare to audiences around the world, but would have to agree that the audiences I've been a part of have a lot to learn about respecting the rights of their fellow patrons. Of the following, I believe 50% were 'violated' during the performance last night:

A Gentle Reminder: Audience DOs and DON'Ts

It is always a good time to be reminded of what it takes to be a good audience member. Reprinted below, by permission of Stagebill, Inc. NY, is a list of audience "Golden Rules" which has appeared time and again in various concert/opera programmes. Observance of these rules guarantees a more enjoyable time at the opera or the concert hall.


Here's a refresher course. Please read on, and remember, part of one's pact as an audience member is to take seriously the pleasure of others, a responsibility fulfilled by quietly attentive (or silently inattentive) and self contained behavior. After all, you can be as demonstrative as you want during bows and curtain calls.


1. Go easy with atomizer; many people are highly allergic to perfume and cologne. (This one was particularly evident last night, and the mixture of scents was at times overpowering!)

2. If you bring a child, make sure etiquette is part of the experience. Children love learning new things. (Not a problem at this show, but often...yes.)

3. Unwrap all candies and cough drops before the curtain goes up or the concert begins. (Oy!! Post intermission, the two women next to me each had a candy bar, and ate them slowly, crinkling the wrappers, licking their fingers.

4. Make sure beepers, cellphones and watch alarms are OFF. And don't jangle the bangles. (Didn't hear any ringing or buzzing, but the woman two seats down was looking at her phone at the beginning of the second act, in between bites of her Snickers bar.)

5. The overture is part of the performance. Please cease talking at this point. (Yeah, notsomuch, apparently...)

6. Note to lovebirds: When you lean your heads together, you block the view of the person behind you. Leaning forward also blocks the view. (Same lady with the Snickers bar, kept leaning forward to look through her opera glasses.)

7. THOU SHALT NOT TALK, or hum, or sing along, or beat time with a body part. (At a show like La Cage, some things are a little okay...just don't kick the seat in front of you or block anyone's view!)

8. Force yourself to wait for a pause or intermission before rifling through a purse,backpack, or shopping bag. (Two different ladies behind me got into their purses several times, one needing cough drops -- yes, I always end up sitting in front of a cougher -- and one almost dropped the entire very large bag on my head.)

9. Yes, the parking lot gets busy and public transportation is tricky, but leaving while the show is in progress is discourteous. (Confession: We bolted as soon as we could, but not before the cast appreciation applause ended and the house lights came up.)

10. The old standby: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. (Apparently they would have me behave as if I were at a ballgame, not a musical at the Kennedy Center.)

All this to say that whenever possible, I am buying box seats from now on. Although, at a performance of Anne last December, a woman one box over was enthusiastically enjoying a bag of chips during the second act of this one-woman show. And I glared, several times. She finally put them away.


© 1997 Stagebill , Inc.