Rude Audiences Reflect a Wider Societal Problem [Video]
Rude Audiences Reflect a Wider Societal Problem [Video]
We make fun of celebrities a lot. Hollywood has become a caricature of itself, with rampant sex scandals, pedophilia, vaginal steaming, incessant lecturing and virtue signaling, and spoiled, entitled celebrities making crazy demands on the set that make all of us cringe, wondering how these overindulged, spastic, neurotic weasels even survive in the real world.
They are ridiculous, pampered, gnats.
But what we tend to forget is that acting – real acting – is not easy. Putting yourself into the mindset of another person, becoming another person is challenging, to say the least. It takes a strong mind and the ability to lose yourself in someone else, a strong sense of empathy, and a lot of emotional investment to become someone else – a someone else that is sometimes quirky, sometimes depressing, sometimes evil, and sometimes insane.
It’s hard work. I’ve been there. My dream in college was to become a Broadway star. (Don’t judge.) I studied music, voice, and dance in addition to my regular school work. I was rehearsing late into the night and going to classes in the morning.
I’ve always loved the theater, so I understand performers’ frustrations when they have to contend with audience rudeness, interruptions, giggles, and phones during the performance – all indications that our society is drowning in a swamp of its own arrogance and entitlement.
During the 2015 run of the comedy “Shows for Days,” Patti LuPone, playing a small-town theater diva, snatched a phone from the hands of a woman who was texting.
Back in 2009, she hollered, “Stop taking pictures now!” during a performance of “Gypsy.”[…]
At another show, someone got under her skin by unwrapping candy for an eternity. “If you don’t stop with the candy, I’ll kill you,” LuPone told the audience member.[…]
A cellphone went off as Laura Benanti was singing “Will He Like Me” during a performance of the 2015 revival of “She Loves Me.”
“I’ll wait,” she said. The phone continued to ring. “We’ll all wait,” she said, and the orchestra stopped playing until the phone was silenced.
Yes, actors can be pompous, arrogant, and intolerant, but you know what? They’re also right.
They put their entire hearts and souls into these performances, and if you think becoming someone else, remembering your lines, singing in tune without synthesizer help in a studio, while dancing in character and costume is easy, I cordially invite you to try and not make a fool of yourself.
Audiences come to the theater to escape – to be transported into another world through music, dialogue, and the energy radiated by the enormous talents on stage who give everything they have to entertain and excite the audiences, who pay hefty prices for tickets.
And yet, more and more they have to contend with the same rudeness we see everywhere else. Drunken louts giggle inappropriately, rustle food wrappers loudly, sleep, snore, and text.
I recently went to see a show at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. A friend and I sat in the balcony, and as I gazed over the audience, I saw a sea of nothing but glowing phone screens. This wasn’t just bratty millennials. I saw plenty of grey hair in that ocean of humanity, and yet, they couldn’t put their phones down long enough to appreciate the stunning concert hall, or the fact that they were about to have their breath taken away by the heavenly music, for which they paid hundreds of dollars.
Every time my husband and I go out, I tend to people watch. People hardly talk. They walk with their noses in their phone screens. They get louder and louder the more they drink (my music teacher once told me that the first sense to be affected by alcohol is one’s hearing). They get obnoxious with wait staff and their children’s sports coaches. They talk loudly in movie theaters and even their children’s school plays. They have no respect even for places considered sacred.
Given people’s lack of decorum even at this most solemn, sacred of places and their inability to be respectful even to our fallen heroes, can we really expect them to show any respect for those who are giving their entire heart for their entertainment?
The most notorious instance of bad behavior took place at “Hand to God” in 2015. Before the show started at the Booth Theatre, a young man climbed on the stage and plugged his phone into an outlet on the set. Several minutes later, as the houselights went down and the cast was waiting in the wings, he jumped back on stage to retrieve the phone.[…]
Playbill later identified the offender as Nick Silvestri, a 19-year-old student from Nassau Community College.
Silvestri admitted to having a few drinks before the show, but was unapologetic.
“Girls were calling all day,” he said. “What would you do?”
Just what in fresh hell?
What would I do? I would turn my damn phone off and show some respect to people who are working their asses off in a job that requires not only skill, but significant concentration and emotional investment, and where there’s no room for screwing up and no additional takes in front of a live audience.
But then again, I wasn’t raised an entitled, disrespectful, self-absorbed shit fungus!
It’s time to take a look at our society and closely examine how we behave in public and how we treat one another – not just in the theater, but writ large. How we behave in the theater, at the orchestra, at the opera, etc. is a reflection of an apparent shift in the conduct we appear ready to tolerate in other venues. I’ve seen drunken sports fans hurling invective at a little kid after their team lost a game, merely because said child was wearing the opposing team’s jersey. I’ve seen angry diners loudly berating their waiters, airline passengers treating flight attendants like their own personal bitches. The rudeness we see in theaters is a symptom of a larger problem, and it’s time we, as a society, stop tolerating jackassery.
As for the douche cracker at the theater with the phone…
Ladies and gentlemen, tonight for your viewing pleasure we will be adding a bonus scene to our show. For your viewing pleasure we will be eviscerating an audience member with cello bows, but first… he will be beaten to a bloody pulp with a tuba. Live. For your entertainment and warning.