How to be an audience member…

Some things in life come natural to many people and other things people have to work hard at. I’m naturally good at: binge watching a full box set on Netflix, talking to people, making the perfect cup of tea, remembering random things about situations, writing letters to friends on real writing paper and telling my wife every day that I love her. I’m not so good at: resisting a second portion of food, doing simple maths in my head, using excel spreadsheets, communal living, changing the duvet cover , accents and styling my hair.

What has baffled me for many years is the complete lack of common sense so many people suffer from. (Generally in life but for this blog I will narrow it down to in the theatre). What the hell is that about?! Seriously what is that about? Why do some have it and others just don’t?!

I love going to watch live performances, theatre has been a love of mine for many years and I’ll watch anything: from opera at the Royal Albert Hall in London to an am dram studio production of clockwork orange in a small welsh town and everything in between. Well apart form panto but everyone has a personal limit. My wife has the same approach to music so we’re forever going to see live performances, even when we’ve been really skint I would find cheap or free things for us to see. I love going to different venues, I love that moment of intense silence as the lights go down, I love introducing people to plays, I love buying people theatre/music tickets as gifts, I love finding performances for a fiver and I love that my wife loves buying ice-cream in the intervals. However what I don’t love and have absolutely no control over is the number of idiots in the audience. They are everywhere, believe me I watch theatre in a  lot of different towns, cities and countries and some how they get everywhere so it’s not a cultural issue its just a plain case being an idiot. But hopefully I can help with that because I really am all for people going to support shows and gain experiences.

I have come up with some rules, because it seems that I have access to a list of golden knowledge that I thought everyone had but apparently no it’s just myself and about ten other people I’ve ever met. So I want to share these exciting, insightful, pearls of wisdom with you…

  1. When you sit down in the audience check that the seat you sit on matches the letter and number on your ticket. Not just the number of the seat but check that the letter matches too. The letter represents the row you sit in and the number represents the seat you sit in.
  2. Ask yourself before you go in to the auditorium (the place you sit to watch whatever you’re watching), in the next ten minutes will I need to: get a drink, go to the toilet, make a phone call, shout across to someone I know in a different seat, buy a programme, check in on Facebook.  If so try to do these things before you take your seat.
  3. Sometimes there will be an announcement telling you using flash photography is prohibited. This means no taking photos during the show, (not even really shit ones that you take quickly to load up to your instagram account).  Now ill give you that one, the way they word it isn’t idiot proof but it is an important one.
  4. Switch your phone off, or at least on silent. But be careful if you do go for the silent option and are tempted to check your Facebook feed remember the rest of the theatre is usually quite dark so even when you think you’re being discreet the light off your phone will distract other audience members and even performers.
  5. Bring your own snacks or buy snacks at the theatre (I do a mixture of both depending where I am and how far away pay day is) but and this is a big one – open your snacks and sweets before the show starts. It doesn’t matter what your snack or sweet of choice it  is, it’s best to open it so when you feel ready for a bite or a swig you don’t have to let half the audience know and make them instantly hate you for ruining a scene because you’re making more noise than a shakespearian battle scene.
  6. Sometimes you will know the words to the songs or scenes the performers are performing and will want to sing or speak along with them, the only acceptable place to do this is in your head. (Unless it’s the type of show where they encourage you to sing or speak along them please feel free). It’s important to remember the focus should always be on the production not on you. The rest of the audience hasn’t paid to hear your take on it.

Now these are just some basics to get you started, there are a lot more but if we could all start with these that would be great. Please feel free to spread the word, I’m not precious about sharing my knowledge – I really do think the more people who know about this stuff the better. So buy yourself a ticket to something (anything) and try it out for yourself.

Good luck! Go and watch something, anything!




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