Recently, The Guardian published an article by Leo Benedictus on the subject of badly behaved audiences at theatre, film, concerts, and similar events. The article included a sort of ‘manifesto’ for audiences, with tips and advice on how not to behave. It is both amusing and true. I ran an informal poll amongst Twitter and Facebook followers, asking for people to submit their particular “audience irritations”. The best ones follow below:
People who sit behind and scratch their knees… An odd one I know, but sat in a tiered theatre their knees are at ear level!
Flash photography when one is performing – very distracting!
People talking through overtures is my worst bugbear. I was at South Pacific in Cardiff recently and it was so noisy throughout the overture, and the chap behind me constantly was singing and humming along to most of the songs and making comments….
At a Proms concert once, I saw a Prommer reading a John Grisham novel while Abbado conducting the Bruckner’s 9th symphony provided some no doubt pleasant background music.
Child unwrapping sweets during a Bach Suite… grrrrrr!
People who go to a concert with a cold! Sniffling every other minute. So distracting, inconsiderate and unhygienic!
Re. hummers, I remember childhood carol services at church where every year, without fail, one old man who couldn’t sing in tune to save his life would persist in joining in with the solo first verse of Once in Royal. Pity whichever poor child had been given that dubious privilege…
I was at a Chopin recital where the man next to me hummed tunelessly throughout Chopin’s last Piano Sonata (indeed, throughout the entire concert!). It reminded me of a sketch from ‘Alas Smith & Jones’ in which a certain concert-goer (Smith) hums throughout the performance. Another (Jones) becomes very irritated by this and starts shushing the hummer, only to be told by others around him: “Would you please be quiet? We have come here tonight specifically to hear Mr Smith humming!”
Because of the average age of its audience (very elderly), the Wigmore auditorium is often a cacophony of whistling hearing aids, snuffling, stentorian snoring, and – particularly at lunchtime recitals – satisfied, fruity farting (the sign of a good lunch in the Wigmore restaurant!)
My father’s first visit to Carnegie Hall was marred by a man in front of him who conducted, from his seat, with full score, throughout a Beethoven Symphony.
Please feel free to share your own particular “audience irritations” via the comments box!
Read Leo Benedictus’ article in The Guardian here