Missing: Audience Etiquettes!

When found, please retain it for future use when attending performances.


Imagine thisYou’ve spent months and months for hours on end brainstorming, writing, rehearsing, tweaking and perfecting your show so that when people come to see you perform, they’ll see your hard work come to life, enjoy every moment and have a wonderful time. Finally it’s show time but throughout your performance, you notice that some people are either chatting, whispering and giggling with each other; rolling their eyes follow by disapproving or bored sighs and/or have their phones out, their fingers swiping up/down and their faces fixated to the screen. 

How do you think these actions would make you feel?  Perhaps they make you feel uneasy?  Upset?  A little annoyed/frustrated?  Downright pissed off?  Well, if these are the kinds of emotions you reckon you might feel (if you were the performer), then it should come as no surprise that when actual performers such as comedians, actors/actresses and singers are performing, they feel those emotions too if you or someone you know do any of the aforementioned.

It’s a sad truth that audience etiquettes (or as most people would call it: basic human courtesies and respect for others) is slowly disappearing among people’s perspectives on acceptable public human behaviour.

How has it come to this? How has it become acceptable to go to show and be talking or be on the phones throughout? How is it possible that some people would think “yep, that’s not rude, that’s a-okay behaviour” as an audience at any performance space?

Some blame it on the advance of technologies such as smart phones and the creation of social media programs. No, while smart phones and social media programs might be contributing factors, they’re not to be solely blamed.  None of them are walking up to people’s hands and telling individuals to ignore real people performing live and instead check whether someone have liked a check-in, re-tweeted tweets, or if a picture of a cupcake have reached 100 likes. It is the PEOPLE and PEOPLE alone who decided to take their phone out from their pockets or bags and use during a show. People need to understand that the world is not going to end if they like their friend’s status a bit later.

Some argue that they “need” to check their phones or they “need” to chat to their friend sitting next to them. No. none of them “need” to do those things, they, and they alone, just WANT to and decided to act upon it without consideration of others.  Before anyone tries to argue their way out of this, let’s break it down a bit: an individual has 24 hours a day. Let’s assume at least 6 hours of that are for sleeping; this leaves approximately 18 hours where the individual is awake and active.  A show is only approximately 2-3 hours which means the individual have 15 hours to check phones and/or chat with their friends.  Is it really impossible to concentrate for 2-3 hours?  Surely it’s not too much to ask. Is attention span so scarce & short nowadays that we as human can’t even concentrate in one thing for just 2-3 hours?

Ok, let say they do “need” to check their phones or have a chat with their friends (eg: to discuss the show or whatnot). Guess what?  That’s what intermission and breaks are for! (They’re also for going to the restroom, the bar etc).  Shows often have these as they’re designed for people to have a bit of mini “Me-Time” before the show kicks off again.  Intermission/breaks are when people can check their phones and discuss with their friends however way they like.

“But I’m not enjoying this show/performer…” is what some might argue next.  That is completely fine.  Shows are often going to be subjective so everyone’s entitled to like/dislike them and there’s a very simple solution for that: If people don’t like it, L.E.A.V.E (during intermission/breaks). No one is chaining anyone to their chairs; people are welcome to leave if they’ve found that the show is not their cup of tea.

By staying at a show they’re not enjoying and subsequently using their phones or chatting to their friends to kill time, they’re disrupting the performers who are trying their best to concentrate and they’re also ruining the show for others who are enjoying it.  It might surprise people that the light from a phone screen can be quite distracting and annoying as is soft-chatter; no matter how soft a whisper or giggle is, it can be heard.

People need to remember that performers have put a lot of time, effort and hard work to create a show for everyone to enjoy.  Therefore, performers should be met with respect as well as appreciation and not rudeness.

All in all, these are the three points people need to take with them from this:

  1. You don’t “need” to check your phones or chat with your friends during the shows; these can be done at intermission/breaks. Turn the mobile internet off, switch your phone on silent and leave it in your bag to avoid temptations.
  2. Please be considerate, if you don’t enjoy a show, don’t ruin it for everyone else.  Either suck-it-up and endure it or LEAVE (if you decide on the latter, do wait till intermission/break to do so)  Performers probably rather you leave than disrupt their shows
  3. If you’re not sure what the appropriate audience etiquettes are, just follow what the majority in the theatre/room are doing

Audience etiquettes, common human courtesy/respect for performers are not completely lost, it’s just temporarily missing from some people in society. It can be found. Those people just need to start looking.


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