Monday, February 1, 2016

How Not To Be An Asshole at a Theatrical Performance

Photo by Simone De Peak

Recently I went to Cirque Du Soleil for my husband's birthday. I'm really clever alright, 'cause I bought him a ticket as a gift; and because I'm such a good wife and didn't want him to go alone I also had to buy one for myself. I'm super thoughtful like that.

The show was at Newcastle Entertainment Centre which, by the way, I've officially vowed never to go to again unless it's for a rodeo or a Food and Wine expo. I've never been to either, it just seems the crappy state of the art stadium would be better suited to those events than a world class performance like CDS. The seats in NEC are the absolute worst! They are grooved on the sides, digging into your butt-cheeks. Honestly, your butt needs to be the size of a small baboon to be even remotely comfortable.

We approached our lovely seats to find that a teenage girl was sprawled across them in a way which I can only assume mimicked closely how she also lays on the couch in the privacy of her own home. She gave me the biggest look of disappointment when I explained she was laying on our lounge seats.
This girl was to be my nemesis for the first half of the show (we found some other butt-digger seats in the second half).

I confess that she pissed me off so much that I spent more of that first half thinking about writing this blog post than I did enjoying the incredible performance, the third Cirque Du Soleil of my life. I flashed back to 1996, high school Drama Class, where Mr Demmitt is teaching us about live performance theatre etiquette. I'm so fucking old. It was one of the best lessons I took away from in his class, (because we all know how far my acting career went).

 8 tips to Put a Stop to This Ass-hole-ery

1. Don't be a selfish, little twat 
Pretty much all of my tips lead back to this. If this was a Mind Map then "Do not be a selfish twat in the theatre" would be bang in the centre. 

2. Sit down and be conscious of the fact you are neither in your living room nor a toddler at a Wiggles concert
We've covered this. You are in public and need to behave like your seat cost $150-$300 for 3 hours of sitting. Stay classy. EVEN if your butt hurts from butt-digger chairs. 

3. Do not use your smart phone
Do not use it for taking photos. Be in the moment. There are photos available on the show's website that are better than any of yours anyway.  If you do need to take a photo then at least make sure the flash is off. Do not use your phone to call your mum to tell her how great the show is, and do not text your best friend to tell her how lame it is either. I finally had to ask Miss Bored Teen to stop texting. As far as I know the texts were not to tell her that her new kidney had finally arrived.

4. Do applaud 
Clappitty-clap like you'd have wanted your mum to do when you were a  booger faced, miserable tree at your kindergarten performance of Goldilocks and The Three Bears. Live performances have been rehearsed for weeks, even months before you see them on stage. Often performers have worked their whole lives to learn dance, acrobatics, an instrument, to act or sing professionally etc...Certainly that deserves some recognition.  
Photo by Simone De Peak
5. Do wear appropriate attire 
Unless you've won a competition to see Sporty Spice doing cool tricks on a stage with a treadmill, and you are going to join her on stage for a personal fitness session half way through - do not wear your track suit, short shorts, or joggers to a theatrical performance.  For the love of congolese monkeys, do not wear thongs (flip flops) either. And please no hats or big hair either. You'd think it would go with out saying that someone would want to see more of the stage then they would of you. 

6. Parent your child  
Pat on the back and good on you for bringing your child to an enriching and educational experience at the theatre. It must be a big deal since you've decided to drop at least $120 for their ticket. Don't stop there. Stay in parent mode. That means telling Miss Bored Teen to get off her phone during the fucking show, or even going as far as apologising to the person stuck next to your child's rude ass. If you can't get through to her face to face then send her a text with the link of this post before she even sets foot in a theatre. I won't be the only uptight thirty-something year old (wearing her nana's underpants), who will thank you!

7. Do not walk out during end of the show applause 
This is not a footie match where you can walk out early to avoid the crowds on the walk back to your car. I counted 8 people from our section alone walking out of Cirque Du Soleil while the performers were on stage receiving their applause, and looking right into the crowd. Shame. 

8. Yelling out 
Unless a performer has singled you out for a gag in the show, and is speaking right to you like god-himself - do not fracking yell out at the performer (s)! This happens quite often at the live stand-up comedy shows I've been to. Just because a comedian puts out super relatable content for their audience does not mean that you have a right to interrupt the show with your fuck-wittery for the hundreds of people who paid to see them.  By all means scream with jubilant bursts of happiness during the applause if you love them though. That is a really nice, respectful thing to do for someone who's worked their tush off to entertain you.

I'll end with this from Miss Bored Teen as she watched the impressive aerial silk contortion of a female acrobat in Cirque du Soleil;

"OH SHIT! HER BUTT IS SO FIRM!"
Image Credit
It does make you want to shout though, doesn't it...

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