Thursday, May 8, 2008

Theatrical pet peeves

For the most part, I try not to be peevish. Yet, I'm human and I do have those little things that annoy me the way a mosquito bite does during an otherwise beautiful summer dusk.

Here's my list of minor annoyances that elicit sighs or eye rolls but don't really detract all that much from the overall experience:
  • Actors who don't smile during a curtain call--specifically, those who look grumpy or put out
  • Lack of bios in a program
  • Text messaging during a performance
  • Audience members who talk above a whisper during a performance
  • Being asked immediately after a show what I think of it
  • Getting a press release the day of or the day before an event
  • Seats placed so close together that I have to get intimate with the person sitting next to me
  • Pre-casting a community theater show
  • Scorn for community theatre (hmm, that one is probably more elevated than a peeve)
  • Flash photography during a show
  • Cell phones ringing during a show
What are your pet peeves?


Anonymous said...

Those are all good ... a few items for thought:

- the curtain call - I enjoy it more when actors do it in character - at least for their initial bow. If they want to relax and smile for the group bow, that's fine. But sometimes they just appear ambiguous - so I'm not sure they are grumpy as you say, or they just don't really know how to take a bow. Many of them are never taught how to do it.

- the scorn for community theatre - yes - that one has been there a while, like it's such a significant step down from the professional ranks. Unfortunately, I don't thinks it's a feeling that is going to be
shaken anytime soon. Sort of like going to a community college - as if their classes are worth so much
less than a major university. There are some incredible community theatre's all over the country, many of whom periodically draw Equity actors because the ensemble is so good.

- the cell phones is something that bugs me ... I can go to a show and not hear anyone talk, no flash photos, or any other slight disturbance - but sure enough someone's cell phone is going to go off.

My biggest peeve? Curtain speeches! The need for some groups/individuals who feel they have to come out before every single performance to introduce themselves and/or the show. That's what programs are for. That's what verbal announcements over the sound system (usually from the stage manager) are for.
That's what signs in the lobby or on the door are for! I really don't want someone coming out before the show to tell me to turn off my cell phone, that I can't take flash photos, where the bathroom is, or who the corporate sponsor is. If I violate a house rule, I should get tossed out. If I'm whispering too loud, I hope someone keeps me out of the theatre until I'm taught basic courtesy and respect. I'd like to come into the house, take my seat, and be able to transition into the show as the lights come down.

Thanks for letting me unload that. :)

Bridgette Redman said...

You're welcome! Thanks for posting.

I have mixed feelings about curtain speeches. When they are kept short and they are welcoming, I think it's a nice touch that adds another layer of connection between the theater and the audience. However, when they are lectures on good behavior, that can get tiresome.

Curtain calls are another one of those moments where the theater--through its cast members--has a chance to connect with the audience. If they do it in character, that's great. It's part of the entertainment. But if not, then I think it is wonderful when the actors can make some sort of connection with the audience and acknowledge their presence.

Community theaters help keep theater alive. When people can participate in theater, they are more likely to become supporters and advocates of theater. If we look at the greater social and societal trends, everything is moving toward greater participation. People don't want to just buy a product or a service. They want an experience, preferably one they can participate in and customize. This is a great opportunity for community theater.

Anonymous said...

Re: Curtain calls

I been both the smiley one and the grouchy one when doing these, depending on the show. As a general rule, I have no problem being the happy guy, showing his appreciation for those in attendance. Occasionally though, the show has been such a draining drama, it becomes too difficult for me to shed my serious character at the drop of a hat. So there you have it.

Bridgette Redman said...

Want to know something funny? I originally wrote this post about two weeks ago. I had it in draft because I'd already made a post on the day that I wrote it. Then I went to see Stuff Happens. Guess who didn't smile during his curtain call?

I told him, "Great, now I can't post that entry because it's going to look like I'm picking on you!"

Of all the things on my list, I think that one most falls under my personal quirk/peeve, not one that is right or wrong.