Please turn off all devices that may cause disruption- including your parentsMonday, December 19, 2011 By Indigo Sage
Looking back over the years, and to the back of a theatre, it is easy to see that not much has changed. The sixth graders are still short, Mr. Hawks still doesn’t like pajamas, and students still don’t know that you can’t text during assemblies. It is interesting to look around during a performance and see all that goes on. Many things that cannot be seen from the stage can be seen by fellow audience members. During plays and concerts I have seen texting (which actually can be seen from stage- it’s quite distracting) and feet on the seats, talking, reading and the occasional “stealthy” phone call. All this at an arts school. I always wonder if people know how irritating they are being, or if they are really obnoxious as their actions suggest. Do the people who make phone calls in movie theatres realize that everyone can hear everything they say, and that the light from their screen lights up the whole theatre? I have no idea. You have to hope that they don’t understand this distraction, because if they do, it would suggest that our society has become unbearably rude and narcissistic. Doug Graves, a theatre teacher, does not think it is the students’ fault. Our whole culture is losing its appreciation for the arts and performers. “I don’t think it’s a matter of students being more rude, necessarily. I think it’s a matter of educating students on proper audience etiquette and students having parents that model proper audience etiquette. I see plenty of parents playing with their phones during performances, even when a verbal announcement has been made to turn them off,” he said. But it isn’t just the parents that are to blame. A few years ago at a play put on especially for seniors, the students behaved even worse. Students were “talking throughout the performance… and threw Skittles at the actors on stage.” It was the “rudest audience” Graves had ever seen. It takes courage to get up onstage and perform, especially in front of peers. There are lots of things to worry about even with a perfectly behaved audience. Graves notices the rustling and fidgeting of an audience losing attention, where DSA seniors Emmily Tomulet and Erica Stewart notice the bright lights. Lindsey Morgan, also a senior, just watches the people in the front row. People also don’t understand that there are different courtesies for different types of shows. You may yell out your child’s name as they collect their diploma, but not in the middle of a group piece in a dance concert and definitely not during a chorus performance or a play. Audiences, though they play a vital role in any production. are generally there only to support and appreciate what is happening on stage. I think it is more of an issue of respect and knowledge than rudeness. People just don’t realize how much time and work is put into performing, and the courage it takes to get on stage. Also, I think that many people don’t realize how a cell phone screen can light up a whole theatre (especially a blackbox) and how something as simple as that blue glow can ruin the experience for the other audience members, and even distract performers who have been preparing for weeks if not months.