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Don't people know how to behave any more?

(37 Posts)
marthamoo Sat 30-Jul-05 10:34:32

Sorry chaps - huge rant coming on but I am seething and need to get this off my chest.

I went to see Grease last night, was really looking forward to it - it was a holiday treat for troutpout and I, going into Manchester for a night out.

Now's not Chekhov, I know that: it's a mainstream musical with mass appeal. I expected the audience to indulge in a bit of foot tapping, clapping along, maybe a bit of singing. I have never experienced anything like it. Most (1/2 to 2/3rds of the audience - and the theatre was almost full) just seemed to have no idea how to behave in a theatre. People were talking all through it - not quietly, but like you would chat in a pub with loud music where you have to raise your voice to make yourself heard; people had brought in several alcoholic drinks apiece, which they proceeded to neck down - so then of course they had to keep getting up to go to the loo; some would pay attention long enough to sing along tunelessly at the tops of their voices - then talk all through the dialogue; the audience was lit up with small blue glowing screens - people were texting on their mobiles all the way through; some people were obviously incapable of even sitting still - kept getting up and going for a wander round the auditorium, or nipping out for a cigarette; people were taking flash photographs and had to be reprimanded by the ushers.

We moved after the first half because the man next door but one to tp talked incessantly in a loud voice - his girlfriend chatted back but did at least stop so she could sing along (badly and loudly) to the music. They must have paid £30 apiece for tickets, the same as us - why when they seemed to have no interest in actually watching the show? But where we moved to we had 4 women in front of us who also nattered on loudly through all the dialogue - a man nearby asked them to be quiet but they didn't take much notice.

It completely ruined it for both of us (and presumably the small minority of the audience who had gone along to enjoy the show). I felt sorry for the performers - especially the poor girl who played Sandy who was completely drowned out by tuneless wailing when she sang Hopelessly Devoted. It was like karaoke night down your local theme pub, not a theatre.

Don't people know what is acceptable behaviour any more? I wondered if some of the audience actually knew it was real people up there on stage or whether they thought it was computer generated. Honestly, it was so depressing - there seems to be a culture of people now who just have absolutely no consideration for anyone else, and no idea how to behave.

I know I sound like Mrs Angry of Macclesfield - but I am just gobsmacked and still seething.

It seems to me that a lot of people nowadays (oh I sound old) have lost the ability to sit still and concentrate. Even on a bus or a train - there was a time when you would sit and look out of the window and think your own thoughts - but now you have your mobile and you can be talking, texting, surfing the net, playing games, listening to music. Add the attention span of a gnat to a lack of consideration and empathy for anyone else - and you end up with an audience like the one we had to endure last night.

Sorry, warned you it was a rant.

sobernow Sat 30-Jul-05 10:42:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

suzywong Sat 30-Jul-05 10:44:59

oh blimey moo poor you

charliecat Sat 30-Jul-05 11:17:53

Sounds awful

myturn Sat 30-Jul-05 11:23:20

I can understand you wanting to rant Marthamoo - it must have really dampened your enjoyment of the evening. We were at a concert not so long ago and I was so ashamed at the behaviour of people during the warm-up act, which was actually very good. People were talking and laughing really loudly the whole way through and not bothering to applaud or give the poor band any kind of acknowledgment. They are well established in other countries inc. the US as far as I am aware, and they must have been shocked at how rude this particular British audience was.

Caligula Sat 30-Jul-05 11:25:38

No they don't.

But if I were you, I'd ask for my money back. It's all very well saying this is how people behave nowadays, but actually, they behave like this because they're allowed to. If theatres said "right, we're going to stop the show until you all shut up, and we're going to have a policy of throwing you out if you can't behave (without money back!)" people would be more inclined to behave. It's a question of setting expectations. And if more people demanded their money back because the theatre failed to provide the conditions to enjoy a show, they might be persuaded that it might be more profitable to attract intelligent audiences than morons.

Don't blame you ranting.

swedishmum Sat 30-Jul-05 12:56:17

Poor you. I'd agree with contacting the theatre too - they need to know people's views.
When I taught I noticed it more and more - parents were incapable of sitting still and watching their own kids perform, not only in shows but classical school concerts!
Being Mrs Moany Pants (according to my kids) I blame it on too much TV, playstation, mobile phones - people just can't sit still for 5 minutes.

troutpout Sat 30-Jul-05 13:09:21

It was the wandering around aimlessly that really did it for me.You could tell that some just couldn't bear the thought of sitting still and concentrating at all. Phones were going off all the time, tired small kids were moaning, people going out for a fag/ loo, coming back in again, moving to talk to other people they knew,people gossiping and texting, people gossiping and singing and texting and boozing all at the same time!

Don't get me wrong i expected singing...but this was ridiculous!! High pitched wailing...and trying to out-sing the actual perfomer! Singing the bits that they knew were coming , before she did.

I just felt so sorry for the performers.

The performance itself (which was very good btw) ...just seemed to be like a sideshow for most of these people who were just gossiping, laughing and shouting. I endured someone shouting to his girlfriend about how one of the characters was like Eugene (from BB) 'E'S LIKE EUGENE! THAT ONE OFF BIG BROTHER A RIGHT F*ING DORK!'
And the boozing ! Truly gone are the days when you ordered a drink from the bar during the interval...drank it quickly and then went back to your seats. Nowadays it seems, you order 5 drinks , guzzle 2 and bring 3 back to your seat.

Actually...i do want my money back
From : the other Mrs Angry of Macclesfield

spidermama Sat 30-Jul-05 13:11:16

I totally agree marthamoo and I think you should complain to the theatre staff because they need to make sure people behave.

My dh is an actor. He did a two man show in the West End and he used to be standing on stage acting and noticing that people in the front row were texting messages to each other .
It used to drive him mad. This was despite the announcement about turning off mobile phones. It was usually younger people, six formers on school theatre trips, and there'd be little green lights flashing on and off across the auditorium.

They just don't seem to know how to behave in a big group. I think we need to lobby theatres to clamp down on the behaviour.

toothyboy Sat 30-Jul-05 13:12:15

Along the same lines but on a much smaller scale, at our Tumble Tots the children(2-3yrs) take items in to show everyone and say as much or as little as they can about their items to the whole group. Some of the mothers are incapable of sitting quietly for even 5 minutes while the children (including their own) are having their moment of glory! I think it's so rude and definitely not giving the children the right message.

And I would be furious about your experience in the theatre as well. I can't decide whether it's ruder to the performers or the rest of the audience - both the same I guess.

spidermama Sat 30-Jul-05 13:13:29

Perhaps this is where it all starts toothy.

happymerryberries Sat 30-Jul-05 13:16:39

You should try teaching a class of 14 year olds !

troutpout Sat 30-Jul-05 13:29:47

I used to teach HMB...know exactly what you mean.
That's pretty close actually...but was much worse
Those poor actors

sobernow Sat 30-Jul-05 14:06:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KemalsStilletto Sat 30-Jul-05 14:10:26

Thats dreadful Marthamoo. I went to the opera at the Opera House in Manchester a few years back and that was fine, a very enjoyable night out. Definately complain and get your money back. Its appaling the way people behave and no wonder Britons get a bad repuatation.

spidermama Sat 30-Jul-05 14:13:08

My dh says he has heard people arguing in the audience when someone tried to quieten a disruiptive member of the audience.

As an actor he has even had to stop in the middle of a performance, and wait until the disruption has stopped.

I think Front of House should be dealing with matters before it gets to this extreme level, for the sake of the performers, the rest of the audience and the entire show.

wassy Sat 30-Jul-05 14:14:20

the poor actors/actresses, it must have been awful for them too, surely people don't really behave like this in theatres now, they don't at cinemas. I would write to the theatre too otherwise they may not see a need to act.

happymerryberries Sat 30-Jul-05 14:15:36

I'm going to sound like my mother now!

I was out in town this morning as went to a cafe. I needed the loo and went, there was only one, unisex.

While I was intere a child arrived outside and within about a minute was loudly shouting 'I'm fed up of wating, I need the toilet now', over and over again. I finised, flushed and washed my hands.

As I came out I looked at the child, aged about 8-9 and said 'It is generaly considered rude to shout at people using the toilet'. The child was quite old enough to have basic patience and manners.

I came out and told the story to dh and kids and dd said, ' you used the quiet voice didn't you Mum? the one that makes people scared'. LMAO, she had me down to a tee! The shame was this boy haddn't had the 'quiet voice' a little more often!

spidermama Sat 30-Jul-05 14:17:59

Good for you HMB. LOL 'the quiet voice'.

wassy Sat 30-Jul-05 14:19:42

LOL HMB! I have tried to perfect such a voice or a look but to no avail so far! Any tips?!

happymerryberries Sat 30-Jul-05 14:21:52

Practiced in school. I quickly learned that most 14 year olds want you to shout at them, gives them street cred. Far more effective to walk behind them and whisper ' You do this now or you do twice as much at lunchtime' with the utmost confidence and then quietly walk away. Give them a few minutes to huff and puff and theu usualy get down to work

Lonelymum Sat 30-Jul-05 14:25:08

It sounds awful! Dh and my first date was to a live peformance of the Rocky Horror Show, which is well known for its audiience participation, but even that doesn't come anywhere close to what you describe. People just sang along and sometimes spoke the words along with the actors, but you never felt the actors were being drowned out by the audience.

I would complain to the theatre too. It sounds like the audience consisted entirely of 2 year olds!

sobernow Sat 30-Jul-05 14:28:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

marthamoo Sat 30-Jul-05 14:34:40

Mrs Angry of Macclesfield has written a letter to the Manchester Evening News (fingers crossed it gets printed) and I will cc it to the theatre management - I don't blame the theatre (though maybe an announcement at the beginning about mobiles and photography could be implemented). I'm still reeling - and saddened that this experience doesn't seem unique.

hmb - I have a quiet voice as perfected with misbehaving kids in the library. I remember one time a bunch of children were on the computer in the children's section and they had borrowed the "Human Body" Cd-Rom (and what bright spark thought that was a good idea). They had found the section on reproduction (of course!) and were listening to it and turning up the volume to full blast on certain words. So every few seconds an American voice would boom out into the library..."Vagina!" "Penis!" "Erection!" It was actually very funny, little old ladies were keeling over in shock by the Catherine Cooksons.

I crept up behind them and whispered in the ring leader's ear "I have your library card, and your phone number, would you like me to ring your parents or are you going to stop doing that right now?" Not another peep out of them...

happymerryberries Sat 30-Jul-05 14:35:26

And to be fair it wasn't the fault of the staff that the people in the audience didn't know how to behave. I doubt that the people on stage liked it any better than Marthamoo tbh.

I was horrified at the last y6 open evening to see parents letting their kids run around when the Head was talking, and some of the parents even chatting to their kids when members of staff were talking and giving them information on what would be happening when the kids came into the school in September. If this is the example they are set, is it any wonder that people can't behave in a reasonable way in public?

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