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 Post subject: The Other Half - the Audience
PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2000 8:27 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
I have watched through the years with increasing dismay the behavior, or lack thereof of the audience. They are the other half of the performance.<P>I first started seriously going to the theater for ballet, opera and symphony in the early, very early, 1960's. (I know most of you weren't probably born yet LOL) My first experience was at the wonderful Academy of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.<P>An evening at the theater meant for some people formal dress - but for most of the audience - neat, clean clothes - like one might wear for church. Suits and ties for men, dresses for women. In the least expensive seats - where I often sat in those days - we were all still neatly dressed.<P>It also meant coming to the theater and being seated on time for the performance. There was no talking, no unwrapping candies, or otherwise rattling around. The applause at the end was enthusiastic, several bravos/bravas as the performance deserved. Occasionally there was a standing ovation (like for Raissa Struckova in Walpurgis Night, Bolshoi Ballet). But standing ovations were truly reserved for outstanding performances. No one, as I remember it left their seats until the performers had taken their final bows and the curtains firmly closed.<P>Now, I know I am an old, picky lady, but............. when I see some people coming into the theater in torn blue jeans, T-shirts, sandals, I sometimes wonder - what do they save their neater clothes for? I know it is not economics - they are sitting in seats are the best in the house.<P>Of a much less excusable nature - are those who arrive well after the overture - and while the dancers are well into the first or second!! piece. Constant talking, unwrapping candy, answering cell phone calls (yes, I know that sounds unbelieveable), and leaving before the final dance is finished, are really not excusable, in my opinion. I just cringe for the dancers who of course, can see them leaving.<P>And, while I am on this tirade - bravos/bravas seem to have been replaced by a kind of canine yelping as a means of expressing pleasure. Standing ovations are becoming regular feature of the applause. <P>Is this just a phemonena of where I live? or a creature of our time?<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: The Other Half - the Audience
PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2000 4:10 pm 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Basheva, it's quite a coincidence as I was thinking of writing about my irritating experiences this evening at the Royal Opera House. I now associate suits and ties at a performance with anti-social behaviour. A significant preportion of the audience at the ROH are there for corporate entertaining. Some are genuine lovers of ballet, but many are not. How else to explain: <P>-the late return to the auditorium - desserts and coffee are served for diners in the intervals. <P>- AS you say Basheva, one of the most infuriating points is the use of mobile phones in the auditorium. Here it is not actually during the performance, but of course the users forget to turn them off. In the final scene of tonight's 'Marguerite and Armand' as Sylvie Guillem's Marguerite is dying in the arms of her lover and the music is at it's quietest, a mobile phone goes off. The owner is too embarressed to do anything about it and just let's it ring. It stops. And 30 seconds later it rings, again again unanswered. 2200 people have had one of the most significant moments of the ballet ruined. I was told that this is now a regular occurrence.<P>This has never happened to me at The Place, London's premier modern dance venue. I will usually be sitting next to someone casually dressed, often in jeans who will show far more respect for dance than many of the ROH attendees.<P>When Sir Colin Southgate was appointed to Chairman of the ROH ne said, 'I wouldn't want to sit in the stalls next to someone in a tee-shirt and trainers.' One journalist conmented that the last time he had been at the ROH he had sat next to someone in tee-shirt and trainers. It was Sir Michael Tippett, the composer of the opera that night.<P>I always feel obliged to stay and applaud the performers and throw in a few bravos, especially in the more modern works, like Antony Tudor (!!) which usually get a cool reception in the ROH. A few cool looks are usually thrown in my direction. I'm a bravo man myself, but different generations show their appreciation it different ways. The enthusiastic whoops and foot stamping at The Place are preferable to the often luke warm applause at the ROH, unless it's Darcey or Sylvie. I do draw the line at high pitch whistles, where i have sometimes had to cover my ears.<P>Given the 2x30 minute intervals, the ROH performances finish late these days and for some, 2 or 3 minutes can mean waiting another hour for a train. In such cxircumstances I can forgive those making an early exit.<P>I guess we've all got our pet hates. What's th experience and frustrations of others out there.<P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited November 02, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: The Other Half - the Audience
PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2000 4:44 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
I think there is a great difference between casually dressed and sloppily dressed. The theater is not the beach, in my opinion.<P>I, too, hate those loud whistles and the canine yelps hurt my ears too.<P>Parking and traffic are problems - but leaving before the end of the ballet - well, I just have a problem with that. It's a matter of simple courtesy, both to the performers and the people in the seats that you have to step over.


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 Post subject: Re: The Other Half - the Audience
PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2000 11:08 pm 
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Location: Anchorage, Alaska
And I thought it was just people up here in Anchorage that weren't getting dressed up to go places. Here, the "Alaskan Tuxedo" is said to be a pair of Carhart workpants, and most "nice" events will have a lot of variation clothes-wise. Some say "it's Alaska, who cares?" and others "there aren't many chances to dress up, so might as well go for it".<P>I just want to be cleanish and tidy - and usually manage to accomplish at least that much. <P>The loud whistling certainly is obnoxious, but I'd like to know how to do it! I'd save it for calling the dog or hailing a cab or something though.


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 Post subject: Re: The Other Half - the Audience
PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2000 1:40 am 
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Location: Australia
groan...mobile phones... hate 'em Image<P>i've even heard someone ANSWER one in a theatre during a ballet performance....<P>whistling: hate it! also hate stamping.<P>hate anyone leaving before the end..."not right"...BUT, when i got worked up about this years ago, when i worked as an usherette at the ROH when i was studying in london, i got the same explanation stuart gave, about train timetables...it used to irk me just as much that the ROH orchestra streamed out of the pit long before the applause died down also, because they also wanted to get home ASAP. to me, the audience is applauding them too, and they don't even have the grace to stay - even though they're getting paid to be there...<P>i also hate it when the doors get thrown open too early, so a performance cannot come to its own natural/psychological resolution (i.e. the last note of music to settle in the atmosphere) before shafts of light brutally pierce the auditorium and break the spell.<P>actually, alexandra wrote a great ending to her georgian dancers review last week: <P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>The audience paid the troupe Washington's highest compliment: It did not<BR>rush out as the curtain was coming down, as is our quaint local custom ...<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>

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 Post subject: Re: The Other Half - the Audience
PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2000 6:27 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
I have heard people actually answering their cell phones - right in the middle of the performance - and just chatter away!!<P>Another annoyance people who continue their conversations - at the same volume - during the overture. I do believe that the overturn - like for Swan Lake, etc, is to put one "in the mood". It's not extra time for conversation. <P>I once saw a discussion that thought the explanation for this type of behavior is that people are used to watching things in their livingrooms on TV - where they can chatter and eat to their endless delight.<P>I would put the sloppy clothes habits of San Diegans up against anyone - and San Diego would win hands down. I was at a man's funeral where the grieving widow was wearing blue jeans - and yes they had been happily married. This was a rather formal funeral as he was in the military - and got those honors. I don't expect her to be veiled - but blue jeans? The rest of us were all respectfully dressed.


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 Post subject: Re: The Other Half - the Audience
PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2000 7:29 am 
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Location: birmingham, england
I reckon you wear what you want to see the ballet; jeans, trackie bottoms, suit, anything so long as it is clean and comfy. I thought going to the theatre was supposed to be an enjoyable experience. If I had to wear my suit to go, then I certainly wouldn't enjoy it. As Tony Hancock said "Clobber does not maketh the man.".<P>Mobile phones and pagers are certainly out of order. When I saw the Trocks recently their pre-performance announcement said to "make sure your cell phones and pagers are switched off, or we will switch them off for you". I do wish they would install devices that emit damping fields to block mobile phones in places of public entertainment, and in railway carriages.<P>The next thing we will see (if it hasn't happenned already), is some saddo firing up their lap-top in the middle of a performance.


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 Post subject: Re: The Other Half - the Audience
PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2000 8:06 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>The next thing we will see (if it hasn't happenned already), is some saddo firing up their lap-top in the middle of a performance.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>Sad to say, elsewhere on the Internet I have heard lay reviewers saying that they would try to sneak a lap-top into a performance. It's only a matter of time.<P>I have been told that in the UK law courts, Judges were driven to threatening 'contempt of court' if another mobile phone went off. In some at least there is just such a blocking device as you mention installed to prevent this happening. <P>No use of mobile phones in the auditorium would be a start. I suspect that the ROH, which seems to be particularly prone (primarily money people, not arts people), there needs to be an announcement at the start of each Act.<P>On funerals, I remember the film 'The Big Chill' where they played the Stones' 'You Can't Always Get What You Want' at the service and it was appropriate for that particular deceased. Whatever's appropriate in the individual circimstances, clothing or whatever.<P>'Clean and comfy' clothes sound good to me. On a hot Summer night in the Coliseum last year I was rather smug to be there in shirt sleeves well many of those around me were sweltering in suits and ties.<P>Basheva, your point about people being used to chatterring in their living rooms is spot on. Rambert Dance Company have to send a briefing letter to teachers before their schools performances. In the early days the dishier performers were getting wolf whistles during 'Swansong' which rather interfered with the theme of this intense work. The young folk have never been to a theatre before. Post-briefing the situation is much better. <BR>


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 Post subject: Re: The Other Half - the Audience
PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2000 5:05 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Well, if any of you come and visit me and we go to the theater together be prepared. I adore wearing my dress-up clothes.<P>I love ethnic swirly stuff - from India - Morocco - South America. Lots of embroidery and fringes. Shawls - flowing skirts. Pieces of hand made jewelry to compliment it. Anything from heels to boots. I have very long hair - over 40 inches long - and I love to have half of it in a bun and half hanging down - with a fresh flower in it. The theater is dress up time for me. I am not saying that everyone should do this but in my humble opinion - torn jeans - torn in strategic places just lacks panache.<P>Ladies - help me out on this one...........


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 Post subject: Re: The Other Half - the Audience
PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2000 2:25 am 
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Location: Australia
i honestly don't know what to say, basheva.<P>i can see it both ways...<P>in hong kong some years ago, as a guest of hong kong ballet, i dressed up for the opening night of their gala performance in that beautiful arts centre on the harbour's edge - my companion (rather more moderately dressed) had a good laugh at my expense, when we saw that the locals came dressed any old how - many straight from work, i think, many in jeans and similar...<P>i maybe rather stood out, but i think 1 or 2 men appreciated it! after that, i got into the loacl custom...<P>certainly it is most incongruous in the world's most lavish theatres, especially those in the old style like the ROH, to see casual modern clothing - or behaviour...it's just a misfit...<P>and some events more than others really DO require dressing up, in those theatres. it's all part of the luxury of the whole experience...<P>there have been performances here where i (and others) dressed 'the part', as it were, for the style of the performance, and that adds to everyone's fun, i think. it's generous. (example: dressing as a pink barbie doll, for a modern ballet version of Coppélia, based on the Ken and Barbie retro-chic look.)<P>i just don't like the idea that anyone might feel they 'couldn't' go to ballet, because there's anything intimidating about the culture that goes along with high art...but these days, that's less and less likely to hapen, i suppose...<P>

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 Post subject: Re: The Other Half - the Audience
PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2000 2:29 am 
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trog - if you visit this thread again, could you have a look at the thread in MISCELLANY about INTERNET SPAM.<P>funny - i had a mental blank just now and couldn't think of the word: SNAP? the one i kept thinking was SCUM?

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 Post subject: Re: The Other Half - the Audience
PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2000 2:33 am 
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Location: Australia
oh yeah, me again: - at a funeral, i think it's fair enough for clothes to be one's last consideration... for those deeply affected. for others, it seems only fair to show respect in any way one can, out of deference to the feelings of the family. <P>

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 Post subject: Re: The Other Half - the Audience
PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2002 10:20 am 
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Location: SF Bay Area
And then you have demonstraters:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Ongoing daily protests barged their way on Saturday night into the temple of Argentine high society, Buenos Aires' famed Colon opera house. Demonstrators broke into the upper balcony, chanted "All the politicians must go!" and threw paper leaflets, disrupting a ballet for several minutes.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><a href=http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20020527/wl_nm/argentina_dc_2 target=_blank>More</a>


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 Post subject: Re: The Other Half - the Audience
PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2002 4:18 pm 
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Posts: 3000
Location: San Francisco
The closest thing to a political protest I've seen at a ballet performance was when a few people booed San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown as he walked onto the Opera House stage at Evelyn Cisneros's last performance, to present her with one of his "I declare this to be _____________ [fill in with the celebrity of the moment] Day in San Francisco" plaques.<P>Since I wasn't aware of CD.com when this thread first appeared, I'll add my two cents' worth now. To me, respect for the dancers and the rest of the audience consists of being quiet and paying attention while the performance is on, turning off cell phones, and not walking through the rows while the performance is on. It doesn't have anything to do with how formally you dress. Dressing up is for people who enjoy dressing up. Theaters are not private clubs that can dictate how you have to dress, nor should they be.<P>When I was a little girl (in the 1950's), my mother always dressed me up, with a hat and gloves, even, to go downtown in San Francisco. Even as late as 1968, my mother was dismayed when we met to go visit the stores downtown and I was wearing bell-bottoms and sandals. "You're not actually going to wear that, are you?" Now she laughs to remember it, but at the time, she really felt I was being disrespectful.<P>People should be roundly thrashed, however, for emitting high-pitched shrieks at ballets (or at any performances I'm attending!).<p>[This message has been edited by djb (edited May 27, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: The Other Half - the Audience
PostPosted: Sun Aug 18, 2002 4:48 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
Quote:
Usher, Usher, Arrest That Beeping Man!

Frank Rizzo, Hartford Courant

News item: A New York City councilman - as well as one in Toronto - proposes a bill to fine people $50 if they use cellphones in theaters, concert halls, movies, museums or libraries, except in emergencies.
<a href=http://www.ctnow.com/entertainment/stage/hc-stage0818.artaug18.column?coll=hc%2Dheadlines%2Darts target=_blank>More</a>

And don't forget this other thread:

Quote:
Italians Won't Stand for Ringing

David Wiegand, SF Chronicle

I just flew in from Rome (and boy are my one-liners tired), where I caught Pina Bausch's "O Dido" at Teatro Argentina. Midway through the first half of the program, I was struck by how quiet the audience was. Nary a cough, sneeze or loudly whispered "review" of the program to be heard anywhere in the joint. So unlike American audiences, I thought. And just as I did, a riff from "Flight of the Bumble Bee," arranged for Italian cell phone, erupted from the other side of the house.
<a href=http://forum.criticaldance.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=3;t=000147 target=_blank>More</a>


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