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Theater etiquette

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by ruinexplorer, May 6, 2009.

  1. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    I was reading this article about the annoyance of texting during performances and was wondering if everyone is noticing an increase in the loss of theater ettiquette? Here in Las Vegas you get a wide range of people going to see shows. Some of them dress up and some of them look like they came straight from the pool. I remember when i would go to a professional show in a shirt and tie and feel like I was underdressed. Now we have people like Perez Hilton blogging during a show (which he got called out for at the end of the show). I realize that I am not your typical theater-goer. I also realize that we live in a more "in touch" kind of world. When did polite behavior go out the window? Why would someone pay $170 for a ticket and then not pay attention to the performance? Even if I hated the performance (and felt that I wasted my money), I would never consider ruining the experience for those around me. I know that I am sometimes in the minority (I didn't like Phantom, and that was before I worked it), but I am wondering if others are noticing a similar trend. I am especially hoping that those in community or educational theater will be able to comment.
     
    Harmz and (deleted member) like this.
  2. pianoman55

    pianoman55 Member

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    There's absolutely a trend. I was at the MET Opera a couple months ago.. and a woman's cell phone went off four times... each time I turned around to tell her her phone was going off.. and she insisted it was not her phone...each time getting more annoyed. Finally I asked if she had checked her phone.. and when she reached down.. sure enough.. it was her phone. She then spent much of the performance texting.

    Children are also a problem. I've worked so many family shows where parents haven't taken their young children out when they are screaming and crying. It's distracting for audience.. and tech too when the child is so loud I can't hear my SM over the Telex.
     
  3. Harmz

    Harmz Member

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    i've definatly noticed this as well. i run FOH for a local community theater and at least once during a performance, sometimes more, i see lights flickering in people's seats. it's not happening nearly as much as it used to after the building security started addressing people who were doing it and telling them to either step outside or put their phones away. it's totally rediculous though. especially when during the introduction speach, the mc says "turn off cell phones, and no texting because it's a distraction to others around you. i just don't get it...
     
  4. NickJones

    NickJones Active Member

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    This drives me nuts too. I saw a stand up comic once, and an audience member's phone went off. The guy was under 18, and had been drinking, the comic took the phone, and spoke to this persons mum, holding the phone up to the mic so everyone cold here. To say the least, the guy was very embarrassed, and I don't think he will do it again.

    Is it possible to block mobile phone signals?

    And yes, I hate it when you are in the booth, and you see the light of peoples phones....

    Nick
     
  5. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Yes, it is possible. Cell phone jammers exist. In the U.S., will you get thrown in jail if you are caught using one, yes.
     
  6. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    It's always a fun game to play to count the number of people texting during a show.
     
  7. Chris15

    Chris15 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    And in Aus it's 50K for possession, 150K if it's on when the suits arrive.

    Besides, block the cellular signal and they'll just play games on em instead. :mrgreen:
     
  8. mrtrudeau23

    mrtrudeau23 Active Member

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    We had a dance show at my school last December and a bunch of students were texting or on their phones. It was real easy to see from up in the booth and all our techs were getting really annoyed. Obviously our cell announcement at the top of the show didn't really work. The fact that these people paid to see the hard work the students put into their choreography and then come and play with their phones, which could easily wait two hours, just sucks.
     
  9. misterm

    misterm Active Member

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    The worst is when you're acting in a blackbox and can see the person texting the entirety of the show less than 5 feet from you and cant do a thing about it. Grrrr.
     
  10. spiwak2005

    spiwak2005 Member

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    Saw an orchestra concert once where they started the first piece and then the conductor's cell phone started ringing. She cut off the orchestra and answered her phone. Then she turned around to the audience and said "you probably didn't appreciate me doing that to you. So please turn off your cell phones!!" It was obviously a setup and definitely got the point across. Long term, did it actually help change behaviour? Probably not...
     
  11. cprted

    cprted Active Member

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    Even if you could jam cell phone signals, it won't actually help. Johnny is still going to whip out his phone, write up the text message, and hit send. Only now because the signal is blocked, instead of putting his phone away, he is going to mess around with it for 10 minutes trying to figure out why the stupid thing isn't working.
     
  12. Chris Chapman

    Chris Chapman Active Member

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    New height of scariness: A Director of an upcoming Musical was texting DURING auditions. When actors were reading for her. THAT is going to be a stellar show.
     
  13. Drmafreek

    Drmafreek Active Member

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    There are a variety of things that tend to bother me about our current audiences. The best we can do at this time is hope that those that teach theatre also teach theatre etiquette. In my Theatre 101 class the first thing we talk about is what "you" as the audience member are supposed to do during a performance. Many people don't realize that they are part of the performance. You cannot have a theatrical performance without the audience, and so it tends to enlighten some of them.

    I think we are going to continue to see a degradation of etiquette as the years pass by, and the only way to fix it is to continue to pester people in the audience when we see then with mobile devices out. I've taken to explaining to our student ushers that they have that ability, to please ask the person to step outside if they are texting.

    There also seems to be the "rock concert" mentality in many college performances. Especially dance concerts, where students will hoot and holler during the dance when their friends are onstage. Again, education education education is what is needed.
     
  14. cprted

    cprted Active Member

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    I think this is largely a symptom of the popular entertainment paradigm shifting away from live performances and towards the mediums of television, cinema, and the internet. Not to suggest that such a shift is a harbinger of the end times, but that those mediums require a much lower threshold of engagement on the part of the audience.

    Like Drmafreek, I think our front lines should be the institutions of higher learning. Over the past several decades, the trend in universities as being towards greater and greater specialization at the undergraduate level at the near complete sacrifice of the broad liberal arts education that a BA should provide. In most institutions I am familiar with, it is entirely possible to graduate with a degree in Business (in Canada at least, the most popular major with Psychology coming in a close second), without ever having taken a course in art appreciation, the history of western civilization, english literature or composition, or even a basic introduction to government and politics. How are you supposed to understand the world around you without some of this most basic knowledge?

    [/rant]
     
  15. Eboy87

    Eboy87 Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
    Just remember: There's a special place in hell reserved for child molesters, and people who talk in the theatre.




    I work for our theatre on campus. It's hit or miss here, since we have a whole theatre program. You get the people who really care about the art, and who are attentive, then you get the ones who don't want to be there, but have to because of a class or something. The latter ones whip out the phones and start using them, even after our pre-show "turn off your phones, and no texting" speech. I remember running FOH for the orientation where people were texting during the theatre chair's speech. We're up in the balcony, my boss waves to the chairman, then points a laser pointer at the culprit, who got a stern talking to. Very funny.

    I have had to tell people around FOH to shut up before (more politely of course) because they gab through the entire show. It's very distracting for the audio guy. One pet peeve of mine is when you hear the crew chatting. Our spots are at the back of the balcony, and are manned by people from the Crew class (read: people who don't always have any interest in tech). They sit and talk on comms the entire night in a normal speaking voice, and seem unaware that they can be heard out in the house.

    As for dress, this is an interesting one. I've seen everything from ripped jeans and a Harley t-shirt to women in hats and furs.

    That was slightly long winded.
     
  16. seanandkate

    seanandkate Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    That's outstanding!!

    As a high school teacher, I've noticed that parents tend to be at least as bad as the students. But I also cast some blame on those who sit in close proximity of the offenders and do nothing. If people actually TAKE a call during a show (insert head banging against wall here) they need to know that they stand a really good chance of being called on their rude behaviour. Maybe that will discourage it. Note that I didn't say eliminate . . . :pray:
     
  17. Harmz

    Harmz Member

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    this video is awesome. when they don't want to watch the show, bring the show to them!

    [media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BujoOxjB3b4[/media]
     
  18. highschooltech

    highschooltech Active Member

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    Yes there is.

    But in general i think there is a general lack of courtesy where cell phones are concerned. In general people just answer their phones no matter what they are doing, and not just in the theatre.
     
  19. cprted

    cprted Active Member

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    A friend of mine went to see Hugh Jackman in The Boy from Oz on Broadway a while back. According to her, about ten minutes into the show a latecomer was getting seated in one of the front rows. Jackman stopped the show an struck up conversation with the patron, "Hi, I'm Hugh what's your name?"
    "Uhhhhhh, Jim."
    "Hi Jim, welcome to the show. Where are you from?"
    "Uhhhhhh, New Jersey."
    "Really? Well I'm from Australia and I managed to get here on time."
     
  20. stephendean

    stephendean Member

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    I have also noticed a lot of texting during show as well, often I will turn on the bluetooth of my phone and scan for phones that are on. And boy do people call their phones some interesting names, do they realise that anyony can see them. I thought it was only australian high school kids that screamed and hollered during dance performances by their peers.
     

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