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Last night I went to see Available Light in Manchester.  I think the Palace is not a good venue and I chose to sit in a side aisle on Row P of the stalls.

 

The 4 seats in front of me were empty.  Two ladies moved along from further out and completely obliterated my view.  One of the ladies was a lot larger than me (hair, height and breadth).  I told her I couldn't see a thing and she suggested I should move.  I'm afraid I responded and told her that I was actually sitting in the seat I had booked unlike her...  It could have turned nasty methinks but her friend suggested that they just moved one seat further back down.  I should say that I have never experienced this problem in those seats before.

 

Should I have said anything?  When I have occasionally moved seats I have always made sure I wasn't obstructing someone else's view.

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1 hour ago, Jan McNulty said:

Last night I went to see Available Light in Manchester.  I think the Palace is not a good venue and I chose to sit in a side aisle on Row P of the stalls.

 

The 4 seats in front of me were empty.  Two ladies moved along from further out and completely obliterated my view.  One of the ladies was a lot larger than me (hair, height and breadth).  I told her I couldn't see a thing and she suggested I should move.  I'm afraid I responded and told her that I was actually sitting in the seat I had booked unlike her...  It could have turned nasty methinks but her friend suggested that they just moved one seat further back down.  I should say that I have never experienced this problem in those seats before.

 

Should I have said anything?  When I have occasionally moved seats I have always made sure I wasn't obstructing someone else's view.

Yes, but Janet you are a nice considerate person - the sort who always checks behind her when going through a door to see if anyone else is close behind so you can hold the door.  Sadly a diminishing minority these days.

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I have noticed a recent feature of audience behaviour in the amphi at the ROH. If there is an empty seat, then quite often the occupant of the seat in the row behind will put his/ her (usually her) feet on the back of the seat in front.

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Maybe it's to do with the lack of legroom?  But annoying, certainly.

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I ought to have added that shoes are usually removed before carrying out this manoeuvre. Whether it makes it more or less displeasing I leave you to guess. 

 

 

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Yes Janet same happened 2 weeks ago at Bristol Hippodrome when we saw BRB Coppelia,  empty row in front but after first interval came back to find our seats taken and those in front needless to say the occupants of our seats were moved along. Luckily our view wasn't affected much by the people in front. Annoying though.

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My family have a running joke that I'm not so much Vicky Page in The Red Shoes as the ballet obsessed young woman who appears with an escort in the opening scene of the movie. But I never hoped to experience something similar to that young woman's outrage when Marius Goring/Julian Craster and his friends push past her to leave the auditorium in the middle of a performance. Sadly, I did experience this last night at Swan Lake. Now, before I launch into a long rant, I would like to say that I do sort of understand why the woman in question did it. We were seated in the Upper Slips, and she had very bad vertigo, so from the moment she sat down she began to feel afraid. I feel very bad for her and sorry for her predicament, but if she felt that awful from the second she arrived, she probably should have gone out before the lights went down. The other thing that was particularly hard to feel sympathetic about was the way that before she left, she and her friend talked to each other in normal level voices (not whispers, no!) and started to point out things in the auditorium to discuss during the performance. I'm sorry to say that I was already in something of a bad mood with her and her friend before the performance even started, as everyone around me had decided they were at a pantomime in Cirencester and had whipped out mints, sweets, crisps and a bottle of Coke which was unceremoniously splashed on me when the lady I've been complaining about failed to open it correctly. If you have such crippling vertigo that you cannot go on escalators, please please do not book seats high up in the Royal Opera House! (Also - to the gentleman in the second or third row of the Amphi on the left - I could see you on your phone during Act III.)

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I couldn't agree more if it ever became the norm anywhere!  However, it does appear that these are to be special performances for special audiences who might not be able to sit through a 'normal' show.  Quite a few places now put these on so that a wider public might feel at ease going to a performance.  As long as they are clearly signalled so that no one who might object buys a ticket, I can't see any harm.

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BRB is mounting one such performance of Sleeping Beauty and I think this is a wonderful initiative.

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I agree that it is a lovely and I think overdue way to be more inclusive for those who may not be able to behave as most theatregoers do. And dare I say that it may be less distracting in a ballet performance (well done BRB!) than it would be in a spoken or sung performance. 

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Agree that it's a really nice idea as long as it's clear that there is a different audience approach for these particular performances.  A friend of mine has a husband with Alzheimer's and she was delighted when I mentioned that our local cinema has dementia friendly screenings so she can go and relax and not worry if he is restless or talks at 'inappropriate' moments. 

 

As this is the audience behaviour thread and we are in the midst of the Mariinsky season, I am currently reliving the moment when a member of the audience brought in a tiny baby to Swan Lake!! The baby was actually quite quiet but of course started to snuffle and whimper - a very stern gentleman soon gave short shrift. Several years ago now but I can still remember my feeling of being totally aghast!!

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I thoroughly welcome relaxed or chilled performances; it's a wonderful idea and allows those who otherwise might not have access to a show to see it.  Even the Proms had one this past weekend (and I hear it was very successful).

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Maybe the time has come for performances to be graded.1. Serious ballet/opera/ theatregoers. 2. Expense account/night out ballet/opera/theatregoers 3. Relaxed performances. Not sure how it would be policed though!

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Grade 1 is easy - you ask audience members a question like "Who is your favourite dancer?" and if they answer Fonteyn/Nureyev/Bussell etc, it's obvious that these are the only dancers they have heard of and they are barred :P

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26 minutes ago, trog said:

Grade 1 is easy - you ask audience members a question like "Who is your favourite dancer?" and if they answer Fonteyn/Nureyev/Bussell etc, it's obvious that these are the only dancers they have heard of and they are barred :P

 

And if they say "gosh, I don't know, there are so many" you usher them through?

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I'm all in favour of performances for those who CAN'T keep quiet; not keen on accommodating those who simply don't want to. For their sake too, in fact - if you chat etc during a live performance, you break the really powerful link that (at best) is formed between the performers and the audience so that the audience is completely drawn into what is happening on stage and for that period of time no-one and nothing else exists.

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Last night at Marinsky Swan Lake as the music started in act 4 an usher, in stalls circle, had to shout loudly"turn off your phones please". Previously he had to ask a couple in front row three times to remove scarves and bottles from the ledge. Another woman in very heavy shoes clumped round the outside of seats very loudly during the performance. Don't know where she went. Never been in such a restless audience before. In contrast a small girl abou 5 years old watched quietly and didn't make a sound. She enjoyed it!

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3 hours ago, trog said:

Grade 1 is easy - you ask audience members a question like "Who is your favourite dancer?" and if they answer Fonteyn/Nureyev/Bussell etc, it's obvious that these are the only dancers they have heard of and they are barred :P

 

Hang on, if I answer truthfully that my fave is Fonteyn I'm barred?  Where's the fairness in that?

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In mid June I attended the Natalia Kremen Ballet Foundation Gala  at Cadogan Hall - I was sitting in row A of the side gallery - there were plenty of empty spaces so people moved around - 2 Russian women sittng behind me spoke to each other constantly for about 20 minutes - when the applause was loud enough I turned to them and asked "are you going to speak throughout the whole performance?  I added "out of respect for the dancers!    Luckily after the interval they found somewhere else to sit.  I don't know whether this is a cultural difference - but I don't think so - when the Bolshoi were here last year there were lots of Russians in the audience and they managed to keep quiet duirng the performance.

 

On another occasion a few years back I was sitting on a bench seat in the Stalls Circle next to a man and woman who chatted a bit to me in the interval, as the lights went down they were still chatting to each other, a person in front of them turned around and told them to shussh (which was like a red rag to a bull):angry: - the man told them that he did not need any one to tell me to fxxxing shussh - he was so loud that a member of the orchestra, a big chap, looked over furiously.   I felt so embarassed I just hoped that people would not assume I was friends with him!    At the end of the performance I heard the dreadful man say to his companion that some people are so rude!!!! Talk about lack of self perception:(!

 

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No, not all Russians are performance talkers, it seems to be prevalent amongst those known as 'New Russians',  They are however compulsive seat hoppers both here and at home.

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35 minutes ago, MAB said:

No, not all Russians are performance talkers, it seems to be prevalent amongst those known as 'New Russians',  They are however compulsive seat hoppers both here and at home.

 

And shameless about it! Many a time I was told in no uncertain terms to squeeze up on a bench seat at the Moscow Conservatory by a babushka without a ticket who'd presumably been let in by a friend!

 

Agree that the talking is a New Russian thing, and furthermore largely confined to the ballet - though that may be because Novi Russkis don't bother much with opera or classical concerts.

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Wonderfully strange moment tonight,fully corroborating what many here have deduced over the years:

 

The music started at the very start of Act II at Mariinsky Swan Lake tonight. Two ladies were talking loudly over the music. My friend says "Shhhhh" to them. One talker shoots back "It hasn't even started yet!". My friend emphatically says "IT HAS!".

 

Truly, it does indeed appear that some people believe that unless there's dancing going on and if the curtain is down, you're ok to chat away!

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We reached our seats upstairs at Sadlers Wells about  7 minutes before curtain up and spent those minutes being knocked on the head by passing handbags, bumped into by from behind by passing bottoms and being enveloped by passing coats. HOWEVER.... it did look as one of the seats in front of us might not be occupied. But, wait......here comes a late arrival and, sure enough, the tallest man imaginable lowered himself into the vacant seat. OK, tough luck, but we can just about see the stage if one of us leans to the left and the other to the right. Whoops, no we can’t because he’s leaning forward to put his drink on the floor and bending forward again to pick it up, something he kept doing throughout the show. He also had a special line in raising his elbows to one side or another or scratching the top of his head, all perfect for blotting one’s view entirely. Two seats along, someone decided to lean forward throughout Act 2, thus impeding the scene for the person behind her. Further towards the front, phones were being switched on and off and shining brightly. And, towards the end, my seat was being kicked from behind.

Don’t people realise the extent to which what they do affects the audience members around them?

Don’t answer that ....... clearly they don’t!

 

 

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I don't think the Sadlers Wells crowd is always very considerate :(

 

That said, there were some beautifully behaved young children on my row yesterday afternoon (the oldest not more than seven, I'd guess), who put some of the adults to shame.

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Last night, Duke of York's (to see "Ink"), one of the more nicely refurbished West End theatres. ATG Group, so people brought in beer bottles, which they later left rolling around empty (a definite tripping hazard).

 

And - which triggers this post as it is a first for me - a couple in a box took off their shoes and put their feet up on the rail, waving the soles of their feet at the, I assume, astonished audience. Comfy for them no doubt: go to the theatre, put your feet up.

 

 

Edited by Geoff
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