It’s adults, not kids, who need my guide to audience etiquette

In fact, children and teenagers are generally among the better behaved

Share

An article in The Stage newspaper suggests that young people should be taught “theatre etiquette.” It seems that at a recent Royal Shakespeare Company performance of The Taming of the Shrew, specifically for schools, there was bad behaviour from some of the audience, becoming downright raucous whenever the principals on stage kissed. Ironically, while the younger children sat rapt throughout, it was the older teenagers who misbehaved.

Etiquette. It’s an awkward word to whisper when it comes to performance. There’s a romantic attachment to the idea of audience involvement (not least with Shakespeare, where we have all learned how the groundlings watching his plays voiced their opinions with abandon). But I’m beginning to think that we shouldn’t be shy of imposing some audience etiquette, not just for theatres, and not just for the young.

So, here are some suggestions for audience etiquette:

Rock concerts: Face the stage, don’t talk during the quiet numbers, don’t shout which song is coming next just because you have been to the show the night before, don’t push past the same people to get to the bar more than three times a night. If you spill beer over someone, offer to pay my (I mean their) dry-cleaning bill.

Cinema: No texting. The light from a mobile phone is just as distracting in a cinema as a theatre. No talking through the trailers. Trailers are an art form. And why should the “Latecomers Not Admitted Until A Suitable Break” rule apply to theatres and not cinemas? Let them eat popcorn in the foyer.

Classical Concerts: Do not cough between movements in a symphony as it’s not to clear your throat, it’s to show your peers that you are observing the old, snobbish, no clapping between movements tradition.

Comedy: Sit in the front row and when picked on by a comic in search of an easy laugh, answer in a foreign language to confuse them, or an exaggerated speech defect to embarrass them. If it’s Sarah Millican or Michael McIntyre, challenge them on how much their latest DVD made, and their views on payroll giving.

Theatre: Do not break the flow by applauding when a star comes on stage. It’s a play, not a cabaret. And if a tall person sits down in front of you, do not irritate me (I mean them) by muttering “that’s my evening ruined.”

In fact, children and teenagers are generally among the better behaved when it comes to audience etiquette. It’s those adult regular attenders who have got into bad habits. Perhaps there should be an audience etiquette guide in every programme, one that goes beyond the turning off mobile phones and taking photographs, and addresses the real irritants of an evening out.

Eight out of 10 cats agree: Jimmy Carr et al were lame

The Oscars tomorrow are likely to confirm my view that acceptance speeches are boring and lacking in wit and anecdotes. But after the recent Brit Awards, I’m wondering if those giving the awards deserve even more of a rebuke. After all, they, unlike the winners, at least know that they will be appearing and can rehearse. The Brits offered the woeful sight of the once hilarious comedian Jimmy Carr dying on stage as his lame jokes only attracted the faintest ripple of applause. In a desperate move, he then implored the audience to cheer the evening’s host James Corden. That too failed to get a response. Perhaps Carr’s much publicised tax avoidance problems have affected his act. I do wonder how much these guys get paid — and is it tax-deductible?

Where have we theatregoers’ missing millions gone?

It’s beyond me why theatregoers, myself included, meekly accept the compulsory restoration fees levied at West End theatres. As I’ve said in the past, these are effectively private businesses. Why should audiences subsidise renovations by extremely wealthy theatre owners? My puzzlement is clearly shared by reader Peter Denton who emails to say: “It’s thrilling to read that a record-breaking 14,587,276 people attended London’s theatres last year, generating sales of £585,506,455. But, every time I go to the theatre, I pay a £1 compulsory ‘theatre renovation’ tax. So, presumably, does everyone else. In which case that tax raised almost £14.6 million last year. What on earth is this vast sum of money spent on? Where are the improvements we apparently pay for - and why are we never told on what and where our money’s being spent?” Good points. I would add that, as we are paying towards these multi-millionaires’ businesses, we should be entitled to a share of their profits.

Read more:
Etiquette: the quiz
Debate: Does etiquette matter any more?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Assistant

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Maintenance Assistant is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Newspaper stands have been criticised by the Child Eyes campaign  

There were more reader complaints this year – but, then again, there were more readers

Will Gore
 

People drink to shut out pain and stress. Arresting them won’t help

Deborah Coughlin
A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?