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Thread: Changing theater etiquette

  1. #1
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Changing theater etiquette

    I listened to an NPR show that talked about etiquette in live theater. Apparently cell phone use is a problem during live theatrical events and I’m not talking about rock concerts, I’m talking about musical performances, Broadway, Classical music concerts.

    People who attend are apparently filming parts of the production with their phone. One musician stopped at the end of a first movement to tell a theater patron to put down his phone. Another theatrical production had attendees sitting actually on the stage as part of the staging and one of them filmed parts of the production. It was obvious to those watching that he was filming.

    The guy who has the hot new Broadway show called
    Slave Play, Jeremy Harris, says that it’s important to get people into seats and Broadway is a dying medium so whatever gets people in is fine. And who is to say that filming bits and pieces as an “I was there with them” type of thing is wrong. This is how people are experiencing the theatrical production. A theater critic reminded us that back in Shakespeare’s day the audience would be milling around talking laughing during the performance.

    Our etiquette rules for live performances were developed in Europe over the past 200 years so they are western-centric. They are also for old people.

    To offer the opposite side, Patty LuPone has said that it is disrespectful of the audience to do this to actors.

    what do you think?

  2. #2
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    I will add, not related to this topic exactly although it is about standards in media entertainment, I was listening to a locally produced news story and the NPR reporter use the word “axed” to mean “asked.” She sounded young and I figured it was probably a college intern doing the story but when I looked her up I found that she was fully professional with a graduate degree, and they had hired her in from another state. O my.


    So now I don’t know if “axed “is an acceptable standard on my local NPR station or if the reporter had a slip of the tongue.


    But I wrote in to complain about it because I found a jarring and unprofessional.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Teacher Terry's Avatar
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    I love live theatre and itís disrespectful. So living in Kenosha we went once a year before cell phones.

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    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    I've been to many, many theatrical performances.. I was a theatre major who also studied at RADA in London. I have actually lost sleep worrying about what will happen to Shakespeare. I worry about theatre being an "old person's medium" as you described it, IL--and specifically as a rich old person's medium. And it feels like as we move away from person-to-person live interactions overall, live theatre seems like a relic of a bygone age, so I really think that Jeremy Harris is right to accept however the audience is going to relate to it.

    Theatre is so amazing. You have an empty space and weave the creation of a writer, a director, an actor, a set designer, and a lighting designer, and you have magic. Whatever it takes to keep the magic alive is pretty much OK by me.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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    Senior Member jp1's Avatar
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    Let me start by saying I don't have a strong opinion one way or the other. I have no idea what the "right" answer is. But this reminds me of the book I"m currently reading "Timekeepers" by Simon Garfield. I randomly found it at the library and decided to read it when I saw that one of the chapters involved a woman who thinks that we should have a 13 month calendar and 10 hour days, an idea I had previously come up with on my own.

    A lot of the book involves the perception of time. There's a chapter about classical music and the effect that recordings had on it. A number of composers who were alive as recording of music became a thing, including Aaron Copland, thought that recordings ruined music because the interpretation by musicians of the future would be damaged/limited by early recordings. For example Beethoven's 9th symphony has been interpreted by various conductors with wildly varying ideas on how fast or slow the music should be played. To me this sort of seems like the same thing as the OP's question. Do recordings "ruin" the ability to interpret music in the future? Likewise, do new theatrical audience behaviors "ruin" theatre or merely represent a change in the way that people engage with a live performance. I have no idea.

    And it probably doesn't matter. After all, everything changes over time. A couple hundred years ago people in the US and UK both talked exactly the same. After all, people in the US were just people who had moved here from the UK a few years earlier. Now there are some significant differences. Whose pronunciations and phrasing are correct? It depends on whether you live in the US or the UK...

    Another example that pops to mind, the way people interact with museums. Anyone who has been to the Louvre in the past ten years has undoubtedly noted that today almost everyone who views the Mona Lisa feels the need to take a selfie with the Mona Lisa. As someone who saw the Mona Lisa before smartphones I thought it tacky and didn't do it. Am I just an old curmudgeon for feeling that way? Perhaps.

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    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    JP mentions selfies with the Mona Lisa. All I know is I am sick and tired of getting out of the way for people to snap photographs with a museum exhibit or a garden exhibit, or waiting for them to put down their stupid camera and get out of my way when they’re blocking the pathway. Why people have to record 1 billion things with her camera is beyond me.
    Enjoy the present, appreciate the moment people.

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    Senior Member jp1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iris lilies View Post
    JP mentions selfies with the Mona Lisa. All I know is I am sick and tired of getting out of the way for people to snap photographs with a museum exhibit or a garden exhibit, or waiting for them to put down their stupid camera and get out of my way when they’re blocking the pathway. Why people have to record 1 billion things with her camera is beyond me.
    Enjoy the present, appreciate the moment people.
    Personally I don't make an effort to accommodate people taking selfies. I take those opportunities to photobomb the people. Just like the queen. https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BtTkD73CQAAIxnZ.jpg:large Admittedly people probably won't be as excited that JP photobombed them but oh well...

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    Senior Member jp1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iris lilies View Post
    Enjoy the present, appreciate the moment people.
    I wish I knew the right response to this too. When my dad was a little boy (in the mid-1930's) his mother, who was already dying of tuberculosis, hired a photographer to come take a picture of dad and his two siblings because she wanted something she could look at to remember them as she lay dying in the Missouri state hospital. (dad's the little guy on the left.) They had all been napping so they were grumpy when the photo was taken. Even bad photos can become good memories...

    Attachment 2994

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    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    This is my observation of the effect of cellphones during a production. The light of the screen is so strong that it impairs my view of the show that I paid $$$ to see. The cellphone is not recording the show or the music, the holder is texting outside the show venue and discussing his/her findings with seatmate/s. further detracting from my enjoyment of the show.

    To see cellphones simply as recording devices is very naive and ill-informed about its use and impact.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

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    Senior Member Sad Eyed Lady's Avatar
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    When I see videos posted on facebook of parts of concerts I always wonder how this is allowed? Back in the 70's and 80's, when going into a concert, a person was actually "frisked" sometimes and cameras or tape recorders were confiscated! This was to prevent bootleg recordings I guess. Does this not apply any longer?
    "Like a bird on the wire, like a drunk in the midnight choir, I have tried in my way to be free." Leonard Cohen

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