While I was in Denver last week, I met a woman whom I decided needed to go to more live theater. She had the bad habit of holding conversations during presentations when other people were speaking. I wondered whether that came from watching too much television and not being aware that the other people in the room could hear her.
However, this past Sunday, I was reminded that her behavior could be found just as commonly at live performances.
My first inclination is to cut people a little bit of slack because it was the day after Daylight Savings Time and many people probably hadn't set all their clocks back yet. At any rate, I'm willing to pretend that was why so many people came in late to the Lansing Civic Players' performance of Flowers for Algernon. And lest I be accused of being a pot, I have to confess that I scooted in just as the lights were going out and the actors were first taking the stage.
About an hour into the show, the doors in the back of the theater opened and an older couple entered. The usher helped them to two seats at the end of an aisle. While the man complained about how dark it was, the woman wandered back and forth in the aisle, muttering something I tried to ignore in order to focus on what was taking place on the stage.
When I realized that she was ignoring the whispers of the usher and about to head further down the aisle where I was sitting, I raised my arm to the level of her arm (so she wouldn't trip over my feet) and whispered to her that I was there and said, "Here's a seat." She then moved into my arm before turning back around. She tried to leave the aisle, saying, "I can't sit here."
The usher again tried to get them to sit down and she pointed at me and in a loud voice said, "She pushed me!"
Feeling a little horrified and terribly embarrassed about the amount of noise, I again whispered, "No, I'm trying to help you find the seat. Here," and I lowered the seat for her.
This time she again turned to the usher and said (again in a loud voice), "She doesn't want me to sit next to her." The usher reassured her that it wasn't the case while I again whispered, "No, I'm trying to help. I'd like you to sit here." To myself, I thought, "and shut up." However, that stayed as internal monologue as I was raised to be more polite than that.
She turned to me and snapped, "I can't understand what you're saying."
At this point, I chose not to respond, hoping that the talking would stop and we could get back to watching the show.
At intermission, the couple left. When my friend Cheryl tried to explain to her that it was only intermission, she huffed, "I was misled!"
In all, it was terribly embarrassing--which is of little import compared to what it must have done for the actors on stage who had to perform over such a disturbance.