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

 

Was that during the normal Championships, or during the Olympics? I was amazed at some of the disruptions during the Olympics. Numerous babes in arms in the show courts (not usually allowed, full stop) - did they have to have tickets, or did they get in free of charge? (And of course I only noticed the ones who were noisy, so I've no idea how many there really were.) And what do you do if they start wailing: do you still have to wait until the players change ends before you can leave the court?! I was horrified, having got a return in the second row of No. 1 Court, to see a women with a baby in front of me, because if it starts screaming how can it not disturb the players? Fortunately, it was pretty quiet, but if I'd been her I'd have moved to an empty seat a bit further away - there were plenty of them. The thought of what might happen if a baby got hit by a tennis ball hit at full whack is too scary to imagine. And there were complaints from players about people coming in between changes of ends: one group wearing rather loud colours who decided to come in to the end stand (so right in the player's line of sight when serving) during play actually got roundly booed by many of the spectators, although I think it fell on deaf ears, because they decided to wander right to the far side before sitting down ...

 

Sorry, this is perhaps digressing a bit from audience behaviour as such, but it's all part and parcel of the same problem, it seems to me. Concentration only on oneself and not thinking about how it may be affecting other people.

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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!) wink.png

 

In my experience, really tall people tend to take care to select their seats appropriately because they have such long legs to accommodate that they have to be selective. That's certainly the case with a couple I know who are, I think, 6'4" and 6'7": I remember them asking me for advice on where to sit at the ROH so they had enough legroom and wouldn't block anyone else's view. That said, I have noticed (and commented on) numerous occasions this year where the tallest person in the row has been seated right in front of me :(. You look down the row and realise that, even allowing for perspective, nobody else is of the same height!

 

*My* dream would be for people who are really excessively broad in the beam to buy two seats, or at least to buy one on an aisle where they can spill over a bit. (This is, of course, not always made easy by the presence of armrests. Perhaps they should have folding ones like on trains and coaches?) On a recent trip to the ROH where I'd paid more than usual for a better seat, I was dismayed just before curtain-up when this *extremely* large transatlantic woman came down the row to the only remaining seat, next to me, and plonked herself down and pretty much all over me. When I asked staff if I could move at the interval, they could only give me a far worse seat about a dozen rows further back: I ultimately ended up in a friend's spare standing place which probably cost about 1/3 of my original seat. I've learned my lesson: I'll stick to the cheap seats from now on.

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I think the politest audiences have to be the Japanese. I'm pretty sure I recall that they fall dead silent as soon as the oboe in the orchestra gives the A for everyone else to tune to. Now THAT'S respecting the musicians! Not holding my breath waiting for it to happen here!

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Not during a ballet (thankfully!) but in the middle of a pantomime, I once got rather frustrated with a small boy sitting immediately behind me.

 

When it got to the audience participation bits he would lean right forward between the seats and scream at the top of his voice - about half-an-inch from my ear!

 

Towards the end, when I'd had more than enough, I picked a noisy bit in the performance and got my own back by yelling "WILL YOU SHUT UP!!!" in his ear just as he leaned forwards....

 

It had the desired effect!

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About the size issue.....

 

I am neither short nor very tall, but at 5 feet 7 inches I often find myself sitting in back of someone who is very tall and/or has a huge head. I have also had the experience of sitting next to men with very wide shoulders and long legs which spill way over into "my" space. On one occasion my husband actually told such a person to please remove his crossed leg from taking up every inch of the room in front of me.

 

While one would like to think that others would use some care in this kind of situation, I also fault the designers of the theater. There is a lovely mid size performing arts theater in a town near here - a real jewel of a theater - recently built. As beautiful as it is to look at, the sight lines are a huge disapointment. From the first row to the 22nd row one will not be able to see the performers from the knees down. The seating area actually sinks down below sight level before the raking upward begins. However, even raked the angle is not enough for each row to have a chance for a fairly clear view. The beautiful to look at angled boxes in the various elevated tiers around the theater cause the occupant to spend the entire evening with a twisted neck to see the stage.

 

Many theaters also suffer from seats which are too narrow and/or very little knee room which not only discomforts the seat occupant but doesn't allow anyone to pass in front without causing the seated occupant from having to constantly stand up.

 

People have been building theaters for thousands of years yet we can't seem to figure out the best angle of raked seats, that seats need some knee room, and that they could be a couple of inches wider.

 

Now I know on the issue of wider seats it is tempting to say that the consumer of the modern diet is to blame - but I am also thinking of the wide shoulders of the male population. While I hasten to say that I've done my share of enjoying the wide shoulders of one particular male - husband - in my life - too many times I am forced to share my theater seat space with wide male shoulders without my consent.

 

In short - I also blame the designers of theaters who seemed to have learned nothing in the plus or minus 2 thousand years people have been doing this activity.

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Living in London, it always beats me, with all these Victorian/Edwardian theatres we have, how the women managed to get their bustles or similarly bulky dresses into the seats!

 

The Barbican Theatre is good in terms of having enough legroom for people generally not to need to stand up as other people pass by, but then ruins it in my opinion by having rows of 50-odd seats with no aisle, which makes it very difficult to get out!

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My daughter told me that when she and her friend went to see Les Mis in April, people turned up and were let is as late as when Monsieur Thenaudier sings "Master of The House", about 40 minutes in. If it had been up to me, I would not have done so. It is unfair to the actors and bad mannered.

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I was at a gig one evening, where I realise the amplified music usually drowns out most chatter, but this particualr support band were playing largely acoustically, so relatively quiet. Three young women worked their way to the front of the crowd where a good few people were listening to this band, and somehow manged to position themselves in such a way that none of them actually faced the stage, and then proceeded to talk and shriek VERY loudly. After several people asked them, rather nicely under the circumstances, to be quiet, someone told them to get to the back, or go to the bar, if they wanted to talk, and stop spoiling it for the people who DID want to listen to the music. They went, reluctantly, still not getting it though!

The other side of that, is a wee venue in Kilburn (name escapes - not sure its even still there), that has firm notices on the walls saying anyone talking during the music, will be asked to leave. Now there's a thought for the chatterers and texters and twitterers of theatre audiences!! ;-)

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I was at Wimbledon during the Olympics when a woman's mobile phone went off and play had to be stopped whilst she found it and silenced it / turned it off. Her other phone had gone off earlier!

 

The only problem which I experienced at ENB's recent Swan Lake performances (btw, congratulations to Anais and Junor for a lovely performance on the 8th) was the pause when people attempted to go out and there was a lot of noise during the overture in Act 2. I really think that the Coliseum should have made a proper announcement about the pause. Unlike the ROH, cast lists are not routinely handed out, and have to be requested, at the Coliseum and many people don't therefore get them. I also got the feeling that many people were ballet novices (a good thing) and cannot really be blamed for not knowing about the pause (an odd thing in a performance anyway and it was quite long at these performances). Better lighting signalling the start of Act 2 would also have helped.

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I've been to loads of performances over the last 30-odd years, both dance and drama, where there have been pauses so I don't think they are unusual. I dont think as many people buy programmes these days due to the cost. I certainly don't buy as many as I used to. It would be useful if all theatres made an announcement or at least had a notice by the entrance into the auditorium.

 

Even when it has been made perfectly plain there are still people who think they can get to the facilities and back in a couple of minutes!

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Janet: Your last point is another example of the very human trait of permitting the triumph of hope over experience.

 

However, my main point is to ask if there is an emerging change in concert-going etiquette, at least at the Proms? From listening to Radio 3 broadcasts or BBC 2 telecasts over the last 5 years or so, I have the impression that applause between movements in the RAH has been gradually increasing - though I'd say that, from the sound heard, it's still a relatively small proportion of those present who are clapping.

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And does anyone share the hope with me (I know some dancers do) of the occasional magic moment at the end of a moving solo danced so well - e.g. Siegfried's Act 1 variation - that there is no applause at all - that pregnant silence of a theatre holding its breath is to me anyway more wonderful than any whoops or having to be first to shout bravo - after all it is like a gap in a Symphony. The ovation should wait till the end

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This thread has made interesting reading - glad to know it's not just me who gets annoyed by these things! I think the decline in behavioural standards probably does have something to do with the advent of the digital age. People are just too used to watching things on their own screens where their behaviour affects no-one else and they can stop and start the performance at will. I experienced this recently when I took my children to the cinema and at one point my littlest started saying a bit too loudly "skip it please mummy" which probably annoyed some of the audience greatly. Used to watching DVDs when he can "skip" any slightly scarey parts of a film, he simply didn't realise that you can't do this in a cinema. However, he does have the excuse of being 5 years old, and I'm confident he won't do it again! But I do think that people generally are losing the consideration for others that used to be evident at all kinds of performances and events which is very sad.

Edited by Pups_mum
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However, my main point is to ask if there is an emerging change in concert-going etiquette, at least at the Proms? From listening to Radio 3 broadcasts or BBC 2 telecasts over the last 5 years or so, I have the impression that applause between movements in the RAH has been gradually increasing - though I'd say that, from the sound heard, it's still a relatively small proportion of those present who are clapping.

 

Not just at the Proms, either. For some years I've refused to attend weekend performances of Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony because I've realised that with the sort of audience you get at such times people are going to applaud the (admittedly very upbeat) end of the penultimate movement, thinking that it's the end. A performance some years ago came as close as anything to convincing me that it was a musical suicide note, so to have the transition from the one movement to the very quiet, fading-away final movement disrupted is something I find very distressing. (And yes, it was a Saturday Prom this year, and no, I haven't listened to it, but I bet I know what I'd find if I did).

 

When it comes to classical orchestral music, I just want to tell anyone who's unsure what I think is the golden rule: watch the conductor. If (s)he hasn't turned round to acknowledge the applause, it's almost certainly because it isn't finished! And there's nothing wrong with silence immediately after the last notes while you take in what you've just heard, either. I'm starting to lose track of the number of pieces where the end has been ruined by that one person who just *has* to get in first with a "bravo!" or applause, even if the notes are still audible (even if it's only to those on stage).

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I'm starting to lose track of the number of pieces where the end has been ruined by that one person who just *has* to get in first with a "bravo!" or applause, even if the notes are still audible (even if it's only to those on stage).

 

ah yes, the superior 'clever-clogs', look-at-me I know it all, type. Grrr!

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And what if there are those in the audience who will not be told? Some 10-15 years ago, at a Good Friday performance of one of the Bach Passions at St John's, Smith Square, the programme made clear that Gustav Leonhardt had asked for no applause, a request repeated over the PA just before the start - and all to no avail at the end, I'm afraid.

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I had to cover my ears at the Proms last night - stonking Nielsen 5 but why, oh why, would anyone want to applaud between the 1st and 2nd movements of that piece? Appluse completely ruins the (I imagine intended) transition from dispair and distruction to resurrection and joie de vivre.

 

Ah well, I suppose that's what comes from having the Mozart clarinet concerto on the same programme (also played very well by Michael Collins on his basset clarinet).

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The Dutch theatres I have been to in Amsterdam are pretty good - being a tall race the theatre seats seem to accommodate this as the rake is steep and you don't get a head in the way. The Carre was excellent for an old theatre when I went to see the Kirov and Bolshoi. Have to agree that big heads are a pain and therefore I try to book front seats on circles where possible.

Heavy breathers are another bug bear of mine - Tchaikovsky in Berlin was ruined for me all I could concentrate on was the noisy breathing of a man next to me it was so forced it must have given him nose ache, and a woman at ROH ruined Jewels for me by making THE most annoying clicking sound with her mouth all the way through it was horrible! And jangly bracelets are another pain. I sit there silent which is not difficult! As I've said before women wearing hats is another mystery to me and bouffant hair is a no no too. I've said elsewhere that there should be a Quiet Zone for true ballet fans - if only!

In Venice anyone trying to applaud when I saw Giselle by the Mikhailovsky was told to be quiet by the home crowd so evidently clapping is not the done thing during the performance in Italy - it had the Russian dancers confused though as they usually lap it up at the slightest effort!

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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!) ;)

 

Glad it's not just me, I have suggested this in the past to people who have just laughed at me. At 5ft and a tiny bit tall it is a real problem for me so I try to buy seats on the front row of the circle or balconies but this is not always possible.

In fact whilst booking some tickets at a provincial theatre I did ask the box office lady how tall the person was in front of me!! We both agreed that you should have to input your height when buying a ticket!! A funny thought but wildly impractical, Ah well such is life.

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As important as "height when seated" is width of head from ear to ear.

 

It could get complicated and/or interesting if a small woman is automatically seated in the front row whilst her tall husband is seated in a back row amidst tall men and women. We could then end up with some interesting changes in coupling priorities.

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  • 4 weeks later...

where i am from!

 

chewing gum,eating crisps,telephone calls,texting,ipad filming,talking,loud snoring,very badly behaved kids,people running like animals to get to seats if open seats,then saving loads for friends who normally turn up late,and screaming at the end of performances!the list goes on and im not exaggerating.

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I am appalled at some if the opinions expressed in this discussion.It is no wonder people do not support ballet and that the audience at most ballets consists predominantly of middle-aged overweight haughty women.My son is performing with BRB in Swan Lake at the Lowry this week and I have to attend alone because not one other member of his family wants to be subjected to the general air of superiority that these so-called supporters of ballet have.Ballet should be for everyone.Peoplewill learn the etiquette by attending not by being scared away.

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Whew, Blondie, that's a bit harsh, don't you think? What's the audience member's weight, age, and sex got to do with anything? Are you suggesting that the box office staff ask people how much they weigh before they approve them for buying a ticket? I actually have found the audiences in Salford and Birmingham to be anything but haughty. But people have the right to vent if someone chatters, texts and eats crisps (all at once!) next to them during the most sublime moments of the white swan pas de deux, no?

I wish your son the best success with BRB and I hope you enjoy his performances undisturbed by audience misbehaviour, and unruffled by the presence of middle-aged women in the audience.

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I have to disagree that people "learn the etiquette by attending". An awful lot of people are lacking in consideration for others, so behave inconsiderately when they go to the theatre or ballet.

 

There's nothing haughty or superior about having a little consideration for your fellow audience members.

 

Oh, and a great example of people NOT learning etiquette by attending? The last few years of "Last Night of the Proms" where the audience has started to sing the first chorus of "Land of Hope and Glory". The first chorus should be hummed!

 

Congratulations to your son, Blondie. It would be nice if your other family members were to get to see him dance, instead of worrying about the other audience members being "middle-aged, overweight haughty women".

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