Bad Behavior

I wonder if this is a by-product of the decline of external arts opportunities for students in K12 schooling… People don’t learn how to become a good audience member.

Or — whether or not this just speaks to a set of social class expectations about being an audience member. Audiences in the early part of the 19th century & earlier certainly didn’t expect to sit quietly at performances. They expected and did boo, his, cheer, heckle, cry, cheer, etc. . . .

Thoughts? What does it mean to be a good audience member? Should you expect the person next to you to sit like a zombie? Or is it up to the performers to generate the behavior they need and expect?

Bad Behavior


About jchall1960

I'm the instructor for FA 200, Introduction to the Arts at the University of Alabama
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17 Responses to Bad Behavior

  1. rrhare says:

    I believe that to be a good audience member you should give the performers the respect they need just for trying. I know sometimes performances can be a bit boring, or just plain bad, but at least they are trying. And for that I believe they should be shown respect, and to me that means nothing that interrupts the show.

  2. ashtown11 says:

    Personally, I think its mere carelessness and maybe even ignorance to have rude audience behavior. Although it is true, the show is for the audience and put on for the members of the audience, but the actors and actresses, dancers or singers on stage, deserve the respect. They deserve the respect to have people be quiet and have proper etiquette. I do not understand the meaning of being rude and disruptive, when most likely, that person came to the show willing and probably paid money to be at the event.

  3. I think that the hooping and hollering that you are referring to should be completely acceptable. However, in this article, she is referring more to just the complete rudeness of people. I think that no matter where you are, you shouldn’t have your feet on someone’s chair or put your coat over the back of it or talk or anything of the sort. Even in movie theaters, people do these things and I find it extremely disrespectful to everyone else that just wants to enjoy the movie. I know that the theater is much different than the movies, but shouldn’t the same rules still apply? I think that people just need to learn general etiquette because these actions that she is talking about are just rude no matter where you are.

  4. fa200fall2011sec2karliboulware says:

    It really is a matter of respect and everything points back to that. The people putting on the show have dedicated their time and effort, and even if the show is not what you expect, just be quiet for a few minutes until it’s over, it’s really not that hard. Sometimes people don’t see how much of a distraction they are being to others, which just points back to the lack of manners and thoughtfulness towards other people. My high school always attended plays at the Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery, and they did not play around when it came to cell phones and gum. We literally saw school groups kicked out because one person simply had their phone out, or even the vibrate sound went off. Even before the performance and during intermission, they would go up and down the aisles to make sure no one was on their cell phones.

  5. cgadrian says:

    I think that this all comes down to respect. We all know what is and is not appropriate behavior during performances. If a person is willingly attending any type of show, whether it be in a movie theater or a play, then there is a sort of unspoken agreement that respectful behavior is expected. It is completely unfair to the other audience members if some people are too loud or distracting. I think the best solution is for individuals to try to remember to be respectful. When an entire room is full of talking people, it is easy to join in on the talking because it doesn’t seem like your own voice will make that much of a difference. However, if everyone is thinking the same thing, then that’s where the noise comes from. People just need to all be individually respectful, and then the entire atmosphere of the room will be improved.

  6. I believe to be a good audience member your cell phone should be off or at least PUT AWAY! There is nothing more annoying to me then when I see the lights from cellphones in a dark theater. Its unfair to the rest of the audience, even a small noise such a phone vibrating can be extremely distracting. The performers work hard to put on a show for the audience and I think its only right to give them your undivided attention.

  7. I strongly believe that it is so rude for people in an audience to constantly interrupt by their cell phones. It is not only rude to the people around you but also to the people putting on the show. Even a vibration can be distracting causing many people to become frustrated during a performance. Being a good audience member is vital when attending any sort of show. I believe that it is our responsibly as an audience to give our undivided attention.

  8. jchall1960 says:

    thanks to everyone for all these comments; the last thing I want to appear as here is as an advocate for rudeness. I was, however, trying to push at whether or not there is a relationship between arts attendance and a certain set of expectations about audience behavior. In the 19th century, when live theatre, opera, Shakespeare, the minstrel show, were the key American popular arts, audiences were notably unruly. . . people openly expressed the fullest range of emotions. In the later years of the 19th century and into the 20th, a certain set of arts activities — notably opera, dramatic theatre, symphonic and other classical musics — were increasingly marked as upper middle and upper class activities. . . and what came with them were very strict rules about decorum — silence, polite applause. . . even the sensibility that one would sit through something that one thought was poor. Think about how working class and upper class dinner tables are portrayed in film: the first is loud, sensual, bodily, carnal, profane. . . . and the second is restrained, marked by etiquette, and refined conversation.

    So — I think out loud — would arts organizations who want to increase the reach and diversity of their audiences be better off not seeming so uptight about behavior rules? Why not let the audience self-regulate?

    Over the past few years, one of the interesting comments regularly made in blog posts by students who attend classical music events is they don’t like them because (a) they’re not sure how to behave, or (b) the sneaking sense that everyone is ready to judge their behavior.

  9. jtscogin says:

    I find it funny that every movie/theatre goer has their own ideas of what rudeness is. I would have to agree with the author of this article. I greatly dislike anything distracting me from what I paid to see. If I go to see a play or a movie i do not expect to have a little kid in front of me screaming and crying because it is the parents duty to take care of this problem. These types of attractions should respect not only the actors/ performers but also the audience. People need to consider others when going to events. Any type of distraction can get on one’s nerves very easily because they want to focus on the attraction not someone’s cell phone or candy wrappers. That is just rude.

  10. mkrassick says:

    I think to be a good audience member you should be polite. Paying attention is common curtsy and you should treat the people on stage as if it were your self. Do not talk during the performance. I always hate it when people are being obnoxious and attention seeking during things. It is very dis respectful. Respect for others is highly important. Thats what it all comes down to.

  11. wnichols1993 says:

    It does not matter how performance is going, the audience is there to watch and be respectful. It is so heart breaking when the MC has to say before the show begins that the audience should turn off their cell phone and be respectful of the performers on stage.

  12. fa200fall2011mollyfeltus says:

    I completely agree that it’s up to the performers to generate the behavior they need and expect. If the performance or art is boring and unappealing to me then my immediate reaction is to fall asleep, text, talk….etc….

  13. I also agree that it is partially up to the performers how the audience should act. Of course the audience should not have their cell phones out, vibrating, or ringing. I do however think that laughing, cheering, crying, or other emotions should be accepted. I think the problem with this is that some people take it to extremes and instead of interacting with the performance they are distracting from the performance. It would almost make me uncomfortable to cheer louder like it was done in the past when everyone around you sits “like a zombie.” You don’t want other audience members or the performers to feel that you are being rude, so to act this way seems difficult to do at present day performances. My uncle, who is an actor in several plays in Theater Tuscaloosa, has told me that he loved when people used to show more emotion during his performances, but now he feels that the only thing he sees coming from the audience is cell phones and unnecessary talking. I just think it is difficult for people to know how exactly they need to act during performances, but being rude and distractive is unacceptable.

  14. elgernert says:

    i think that a good audience member can really look like anything. even if they are a zombie like creature. if they are listening and know what is going on with out making any distractions to the people around them then they should be considered a good audience member. just because the audience member isnt taking notes and taking in every little detail doesnt mean they arent a good listener/audience member!

  15. To me this question can be simply answered by the golden rule, “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” I know that if I was performing in front of an audience I would want their respect. Respect to me in the theater is having the audiences attention. Not saying you have to be a “zombi” and lifeless throughout a performance. I believe you are able to speak out as long as you are aiming it to the performance. For example, in a dance show a performer does an amazingly tricky move, I say you are able to hoot and holler for that performer; letting them know they did a good job. On the other hand, if you are being disrespectful to the performance (talking, texting, ect.), you might as well not even have come. I know this is a topic of much debate–what is appropriate and not appropriate. But as far as my opinion goes, sticking to “The Golden Rule” is a way to keep yourself on the right track of a good audience member.

  16. Being a good audience member is something I was raised to be growing up with my parents, and learning it through school. A good audience member is suppose to respect the person on stage or whenever someone is talking.

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