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Audience behaviour has been mentioned in the ENB Swan Lake thread ( http://www.balletcoforum.com/index.php?/topic/1595-english-national-ballets-swan-lake/page__pid__20096__st__30#entry20096 ) Alison suggested we start a new thread so we can all let off steam or praise, dependent on our experiences.

 

The worst behaviour that I can remember experiencing happened in Sheffield some years ago. My friend and I were there to see Northern Ballet's Romeo and Juliet. The Friday night was an extra treat and we had to sit in the circle as the stalls were sold out. We were at the side of the second row and it was obvious that there was a "group" in the centre of the front 2 rows. Quite a few of the seats were still empty as act 3 started. Then all of a sudden the missing people appeared and insisted on disrupting everyone to regain their seats! I objected and refused to stand (OK probably causing even more disruption but I was incandescent with rage), was verbally abused and climbed over by several people regaining their seats!!! I subsequently discovered that these people were patrons of the theatre!!! They were obviously more interested in getting drunk in the bar than seeing the performance - pehaps they should have stayed in the bar and let paying customers see what they had paid to see. I handed in a written complaint to the theatre but never received a response.

 

I abhor the fact that many theatres now let people bring plastic drinks glasses into the auditorium. I've seen a number knocked over and drink spilt. Some ATG theatres take the biscuit. They actually having staff selling bottles of beer, wine and soft drinks (hopefully plastic) in the auditorium! It's bad enough when people use their own initiative to bring stuff in but it is reprehensible that theatres are starting to encourage people to drink during the performance.

 

Over to everyone else.......

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Silly question - what do you do with your coats and bag? Many theatres no longer offer a cloakroom facility or I may prefer not to use if I am on public transport and running at the end. I fold my coat and place under my seat. Many years ago I picked up my jacket and discovered melted icecream all over it! The person behind hadn't finished their iceream and had just discarded the container onto my jacket! Fortunately it was a leather jacket so I was able to sponge it easily.

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I subsequently discovered that these people were patrons of the theatre!!! They were obviously more interested in getting drunk in the bar than seeing the performance - pehaps they should have stayed in the bar and let paying customers see what they had paid to see. I handed in a written complaint to the theatre but never received a response.

 

It has to be said (without any suggestion whatsoever that they might be drunk) that at Sadler's Wells the worst offenders for coming back late are frequently the hospitality/private function people (although I suspect the theatre holds the curtain for them at least, because I don't ever (quite) remember them interrupting a performance as such). I guess people are difficult to detach from their drinks - which may be why the plastic glasses thing got started in the first place.

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my gripe is when a person in front weaves left & right because theres a tall person in front of them i can understand thay thay want a good view but its not fun when the person behind is trying to view with out doing the same thing :(

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I fold my coat over my lap or fold it and sit on it!

 

For many years we have been going to the "Last Night of the Audley End Proms" as it usually falls on or near our wedding anniversary. Now I know these are outdoor picnic concerts, but 10 or 15 years ago, while the orchestra was playing, you could have heard a pin drop in the park. I used to love laying back in my chair, staring up at the sky or the floodlit trees, and taking in the magical combination of beautiful music, fresh air, and summer twilight.

 

The last few years though people seem to treat the music as background music for their loud conversation. People come and park right in front of you and stand up while they chat, blocking the view and drowning out the music. I do wonder why some people there don't just have a bbq in their garden where they can blather away to their heart's content, because they clearly had no interest in the music.

 

I'm usually highly tolerant, but found myself becoming more and more tetchy. We didn't go this year. :-(

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my gripe is when a person in front weaves left & right because theres a tall person in front of them i can understand thay thay want a good view but its not fun when the person behind is trying to view with out doing the same thing :(

 

When I was in Munich earlier this year, on the first evening we were on the 2nd row. My friend and I were OK but the lady sitting next to my friend had one of the biggest men I have ever seen sitting in front of her. She was trying not to weave around but she could not have seen very much at all. This man was so tall and broad, I guess he was blocking the view for a good few rows behind.

 

There are some theatres where, if I cannot get on the front row, I go much further back to where the stalls tend to be better raked.

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I don't think you can really complain about people bobbing and weaving. What other choice do they have?

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As for drinks in the theatre, our Sony Centre (not the opera house, thank God) had a recent refurbishment and helpfully included metal cup holders on the back of every seat to encourage people to bring their drinks in (and bash the shins of customers trying to get to their seat, or prevent them from changing their leg position while seated). I think the theatres make big bucks on drinks sales and that's why they encourage it.

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Janet that made me laugh. When I was in Munich I was in the middle of the stalls, right in the middle. The rake is good so I usually have no issue. Then this lady sat infront of me with a funky hairdo. The only trouble was this hair stuck up about 8". Very frustrating.

 

Re coats its interesting but in Vienna you simply are not allowed to take your coat in. I've never tried in Munich. Its no problem to collect afterwards as I'm always waiting for my son, but I doubt they encourage it.

 

Must admit I love the Munich audiences. Tend to be no chewing, eating etc .

 

I too don't like glasses taken in. I don't mind bottles as they won't spill but glasses invariably spill. At a tangent at football matches you can buy bottled water, in a lovely Arsenal bottle, but they take the lid away. Just in case the temptation to throw it is too great. So, inevitably everything gets spilled.

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My big complaint (I love Janet's phrase above " I was incandescent with rage") is those people for whom applauding is not enough - they have to shriek and whistle. So instead of applauding I usually end up sitting with my fingers in my ears.

 

I think that people are more and more regarding the theater as an extension of their livingroom (or whatever they call the room they view TV) at home. So, it's ok to chat, eat, come and go, and yes, shriek and whistle.

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I find the Coliseum sightlines very bad, since I cannot afford the front row of the Dress Circle I sit in the back one on an aisle which allows me to sit upright or sit sideways without disturbing anyone behind me. Designing theatre seats with adequate views would seem to be easy so why are they so obviously badly spaced? The amphi at CG is much better and I prefer going there, also find SW better than the Coliseum.

 

I always put my coat under the seat folded.

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At a tangent at football matches you can buy bottled water, in a lovely Arsenal bottle, but they take the lid away. Just in case the temptation to throw it is too great. So, inevitably everything gets spilled.

 

When we went to see the Royal Ballet at the O2, we were told that it was actually because if they are stoppered they can get knocked over and then be a hazard to people (say if the place needed to be evacuated) because they roll and can't be flattened because of the lid being on (or something like that, anyway). So yes, of course, mine got spilled :)

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I was fortunate enough to see the Rhythmic Gymnastics at Wembley Arena last week, where the four people in front of me were eating fish and chips. It didn't really bother me at all, but made for a surreal contrast between what I was seeing and smelling!

 

Stephen

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My big complaint (I love Janet's phrase above " I was incandescent with rage") is those people for whom applauding is not enough - they have to shriek and whistle. So instead of applauding I usually end up sitting with my fingers in my ears.

 

I think that people are more and more regarding the theater as an extension of their livingroom (or whatever they call the room they view TV) at home. So, it's ok to chat, eat, come and go, and yes, shriek and whistle.

 

I loathe that too. A couple of years ago I was at a recital by Viktoria Mullova, and at the end someone started screeching "Woo-hoo". Turned out to be a little girl, around 8 or 9 years old I'd say, whose father wasn't making any noise but who didn't stop her either. I remember when my parents first started taking me along to any performances I had strict instructions to sit still and be silent, and my son has been trained the same way. Maybe it's old-fashioned but I think anything else is disrespectful to the performers.

 

I also hate those who clap along with the music. Bad enough in Don Q, but even worse when it's Act 2 of Giselle...

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Sorry AFDS, I clap along at the very end of Fille as the dancers are dancing out and tralalaling! I don't tralala as I would empty the theatre faster than a fire alarm if I did!

 

I find it very irritating when people talk during the overture.

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I find it very irritating when people talk during the overture.

 

You should have been at the Coliseum on Friday, I didn't hear a note of the second act overture, the roar of the crowd only quietened when the curtain went up!

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Sorry AFDS, I clap along at the very end of Fille as the dancers are dancing out and tralalaling! I don't tralala as I would empty the theatre faster than a fire alarm if I did!

 

I find it very irritating when people talk during the overture.

I quite agree. Don't people realise that the overture is part of the performance and is meant to set the scene and get you in the mood
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I don't think you can really complain about people bobbing and weaving. What other choice do they have?

 

I think they bob and weave because often the very tall person in the front row won't sit still (why!?) so the person behind doesn't have a consistent gap to look through. That means they bob and weave, setting off a domino effect behind them.

 

Why the person in the front can't just sit still is beyond me. :-(

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I believe audience behavior is a function of the venue and culture (I think I will side-step the cultural topic). In my view, a nice venue – a subjective concept that takes into consideration, among other things, theater aesthetics, seating comfort, views of the stage, cloakroom availability, availability of intermission refreshments – creates an atmosphere for good audience behavior.

 

Although I have not been everywhere, in my subjective world, the best behaved audience is at the Finnish National Opera house in Helsinki. The venue is modern and its acoustics are perfect. What it lacks in history, it makes up for in comfort. The patrons dress very well and they are politely quite during the performance. The interval refreshments and food appear as though it is provided by a Michelin-rated restaurant; perhaps that explains why everyone is so happy and well-behaved. I enjoyed the experience so much, I am returning this weekend to see Romeo & Juliet.

 

A close second for best audience behavior is The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto.

 

Okay, I lied. I will make a comment on culture. The worst audience behavior is a tie among all of the theaters in the States.

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Willie - I hope you will report back on Helsinki's R&J. The company there are on my wishlist to see.

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I think they bob and weave because often the very tall person in the front row won't sit still (why!?) so the person behind doesn't have a consistent gap to look through. That means they bob and weave, setting off a domino effect behind them.

 

Why the person in the front can't just sit still is beyond me. :-(

 

It's because the dancers, drat them, do insist on moving about the stage, so your view is blocked differently depending on where they are in relation to the person's head in front of you. It's not the tall person initiating the bobbing and weaving.

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I quite agree. Don't people realise that the overture is part of the performance and is meant to set the scene and get you in the mood

 

Not to mention it's rude to the musicians. They are artists too. Even if the overture had nothing to do with the ballet performance following it, people should still respect the musicians.

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A close second for best audience behavior is The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto.

 

 

 

Wow Willie, who knew we Torontonians were so well-behaved! I'm glad you've enjoyed your visits here. I don't think our refreshments are Michelin standard though! And we have plenty of bobbing and weaving, because the auditorium isn't well raked and, staggeringly, the seats aren't staggered, so one ends up sitting directly behind the person in front of one. Plus we have our fair share of people arriving late, though mostly the ushers keep them out till a suitable break.

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Wow what a super thread for letting off steam (comes out of my ears sometimes when people are totally inconsiderate and boorish!!) I agree with everybody except I haven't yet viewed ballet in Toronto or Helsinki - both on my to do list still, tho I have now crossed off Everest even getting to base camp! My incandescent with rage moment came when someone next to me in the Wells stalls starting tucking in to their takeaway salmon and pasta salad and the usher when called just shrugged their shoulders and walked away!! I suppose I should be thankful the guy did not have an accompanying large packet of kettle chips for the first Act

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I quite agree. Don't people realise that the overture is part of the performance and is meant to set the scene and get you in the mood

 

In a word, no, I don't think they do.

 

Why the person in the front can't just sit still is beyond me. :-(

 

Obviously, sometimes it's just a knock-on effect from other people in front, but one day at the ROH recently I was stuck (several rows) behind someone who was bobbing from side to side, really annoyingly. He was tall, and when I looked ahead of him I could only see someone short. There didn't appear to be any conceivable reason why he couldn't sit still. I think it was one of those occasions when I had to apologise to the people behind me for all the movement.

 

Although I have not been everywhere, in my subjective world, the best behaved audience is at the Finnish National Opera house in Helsinki. The venue is modern and its acoustics are perfect. What it lacks in history, it makes up for in comfort. The patrons dress very well and they are politely quite during the performance.

 

Willie, your mention of the sartorial aspect makes me wonder whether the general habit of dressing-down at theatres these days (of which I am certainly a culprit) actually adds to the problem attitude on a psychological level. Mind you, that doesn't stop some people at the ROH who are dressed really smartly and occupy the expensive seats from being a problem, either.

 

Not to mention it's rude to the musicians. They are artists too. Even if the overture had nothing to do with the ballet performance following it, people should still respect the musicians.

 

Quite. Actually, that reminds me of an RSC production I went to at the Barbican many years ago: I think it may have been The Comedy of Errors, or something. As we walked into the theatre 15 minutes before curtain-up we found a woman already on stage, singing jazz or something. She carried on, the audience were all talking, and at one point someone suddenly shushed someone in my group and said "Do you mind, the performance has started", or something like that. There had been no break in the singing that I could see, so how were we supposed to know when it started? (and I don't think it was at 7.15 precisely, either). It felt like being at an early William Forsythe ballet or something.

 

Actually, something else that bothers me is this "must be texting/Tweeting until the very last moment" attitude. It's got quite normal now for people not to even think about switching their phones off until the lights go down, so that by the time the auditorium is dark you can still see all these annoying bluey lights, and people are desperately trying to get back to the "home screen" or whatever (I didn't realise until I finally acquired a phone myself that you often have to fight your way up through several levels just to be able to turn the phone off, and that it doesn't do it instantaneously, but carries on showing images for a while). Hey guys, here's an idea: how about turning your phones off at, say, 7.25 so that you can quieten down and get yourselves into a mindset where you're likely to appreciate the performance better?

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Oh the telephones! That's a whole new can of worms. I can't understand why people can't tear themselves away from their phones, after all if they've paid to see a performance one assumes it interests them. I've even seen a mother I know constantly checking her phone during the end of year school play, with those irritating little beeping noises and flashing lights. Her neighbour politely asked her to stop and she turned on him so I've been careful to sit far away from her ever since.

 

Janet, clapping along at the end of Fille I can live with. But when you have all the Wilis onstage busy creating an eerie atmosphere the whole effect is spoilt by the audience clapping along. This happens all the time at the Teatro dell'Opera in Rome. Actually, I have a little peeve with Fille too, it seems to me that Alain's final entrance gets completely drowned out by the clapping.

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True re Alain's entrance at the end of Fille - I feel the same. Re Giselle - I complained about people clapping in act 2 when I was watching Chi as Albrecht some years ago (ok I am biased). He was dancing himself impeccably to death and I was swept away with the emotion of the moment. A lot of people started applauding his technical brilliance and it completely ruined the moment for me. I can remember complaining about this on the old forum and I can remember a lot of people saying that they thought it ok that people should applaud in, what was to me, absolutely the wrong place.

 

In Christopher Gable's day at Northern Ballet, he used to encourage people not to clap during the narrative so as not to detract from the mood. To this day, I rarely applaud during the performance unless it is one of the old war horses were applause breaks are included. A couple of years ago at a NB dress rehearsal of Midsummer Night's Dream, David Nixon spoke to the audience before the start and told us it was ok to laugh out loud at the funny bits (and there are some hilarious sections in the dream sequence).

 

I have mentioned before that some years ago I saw a performance of Don Q in Copenhagen where the RDB were joined by guests Anette Delgado and Joel Carreno, who were absolutely awesome. As the Cuban style is so different from the Danish, the party tricks in the gpdd looked particularly spectacular and quite a few people in the stalls started cheering and standing during the coda. I've never seen anything like that before but the atmosphere was so electric it was one of those times that it really didn't matter. We were all on our feet at the end!

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Sorry, I can't buy the theory that people in the front row bob and weave because of the movement of the dancers. I always manage to sit still and follow the dancers with my eyes, or at the most, by turning my head slightly.

 

Speaking of phones, twice on Centre Court at Wimbledon people's phones rang! I'd have been mortified!

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It's not the people in the front row, it's the people behind them who have to move their head because their view is obstructed differently depending on where the dancers are on the stage. I agree that if there's no one (or one of those short people whom we all are so grateful for!) in front of you , you can just move your eyes!

I have a crazy dream about theatres assigning seats to people depending on how tall they are! 5 foot 2, you get the front row, 6 foot 6 you're at the back (sorry you beanpoles!) ;)

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As we walked into the theatre 15 minutes before curtain-up we found a woman already on stage, singing jazz or something. She carried on, the audience were all talking, and at one point someone suddenly shushed someone in my group and said "Do you mind, the performance has started", or something like that. There had been no break in the singing that I could see, so how were we supposed to know when it started? (and I don't think it was at 7.15 precisely, either). It felt like being at an early William Forsythe ballet or something.

 

 

Quite a few Neumeier ballets start like that, with the curtain up and stuff going on well before the official "start time". Seagull and Lady of the Camellias are two examples. It seems that he intends for artistic reasons for this to be going on while the audience are still talking and getting to their seats. Somehow (probably when the house lights go out), everyone realizes when it's actually "started" and quiets down.

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