Audiences Behaving Badly

Dear Constant Reader,

Theatre etiquette is fairly simple: shut off your phones and don’t talk loudly during the show. Don’t do anything to distract the performers or annoy the other audience members. A burlesque show has slightly different rules, in that you’re supposed to cheer and make other appreciative noises during the performance, but, really, the other rules apply too. Common courtesies will make sure the experience is enjoyable for everyone, fellow audience members and perfomers.

You know the saying about a few rotten apples? We had that experience at The Wrathskellar on Saturday with some disruptive audience members. I wish I could say it was an isolated incident, but we also had similar problems the previous Saturday. The Wrathskellar is a particularly atmospheric show and boorish behavior can shatter the mood.

It was mostly people at the expensive cabaret tables up front. Maybe they felt they were special. Maybe they couldn’t see the other audience members in the dark. Perhaps they confused the theatre with their living room. I’m sure the woman who kept putting her feet up on the footlights was under that delusion.

We had people having conversations at speaking volume throughout the show. We had people shouting their “witty” comments at the performers almost continuously, especially during the particularly dramatic or tense moments.

We even had one person on her phone. Despite the signs in the lobby and on the theatre doors and the preshow announcement asking people to shut off their phones, she just had to make a call during the show. Scratch, in character as Bücher, had to ask “Is our show interrupting your PHONE CONVERSATION?”, to cheers from the rest of the audience. Later, at intermission the offender complained that Scratch had “embarrassed me while I was on the phone”. Seriously?

When we’re putting on one of our usual revues, the MC or even the dancers can shut down an obnoxious audience member if necessary. In The Wrathskellar we are hobbled by the fact that we are playing characters and following a script. It’s really hard to get an audience member to just shut up and let everyone else enjoy the show when you’re in character and performing a choreographed routine. We tried. You would think someone would get the hint if a performer shushes them during a dance or the host bluntly tells them to shut up. And even more so when the rest of the audience applauds that action. Unfortunately some people are beyond oblivious.

If one would like a private performance at which one could shout, chatter, or ignore the performers as much as one liked, we would be happy to oblige for a mere several thousand dollars. Please contact our management for details.

We had audience members who were upset that these selfish idiots were ruining their experience. I am truly sorry and wish there was more we could have done. I wish we had security or bouncers, but the theatre doesn’t supply any and we don’t have the staff — our ushers are also performers. Please, if you’re at one of our shows and people are talking or being inappropriate, you as a ticket holder are fully empowered to tell these jerks to shut up. You have every right to enjoy the show.

Now, behaving appropriately doesn’t mean that you have to sit in silence while you watch the performance. You can cheer, applaud, ooh and aah, sing along during the audience participation section (you’ll know when it is; it’s really obvious), laugh at the funny bits (there are funny bits), gasp in horror, gasp in awe, sob quietly, &c. That sort of thing.

We want *everyone* to enjoy the show, not just a few assholes at the expense of everyone else.


Published in: on 26 October 2015 at 4:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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