How to Be a Good Audience Member

Well, Wanderers, sometimes it’s good to go out and watch something at the cinema or theatre. This can,  however, be fraught with difficulties due to the fact that people are quite easy to annoy. They’re even easier to annoy if they’ve just spent good money on a ticket to see their favourite thing, perhaps for the first time, and other people are stopping them from enjoying it.

So, how do you avoid being one of those people? FW Tips has some advice, as ever:

  • Turn your phone off. This is one of those things that’s so important cinemas (and their sponsors) make entire little film clips about how you definitely need to do it. If you absolutely can’t bear to switch it off, put it in airplane mode and bury it at the bottom of the bag, then don’t look at it for the duration of whatever you’re watching. If the world ends while you’re there, someone will almost certainly come in and let you know – otherwise, you can deal with being disconnected for a couple of hours.
  • No, really, turn it off. Besides the irritation of flinching away from a tragic death scene and spotting someone’s phone lighting up their face – yes, it is that drastic in a darkened room – or a ringtone interrupting a dramatic moment, there’s also the minor issue that mobile phones have been known to interfere with audio systems and sound quality. It’s not even just the audience who have to turn their phones off – I once knew a stage manager who would switch his phone onto airplane mode, disable all alarms (worth checking in case your phone overrides being off to wake you up) and then turn it off, to make sure he definitely wasn’t going to spoil the show. You can make a little bit of an effort, right?
  • Don’t spoil the ending. I don’t care if you’ve seen the film a thousand times, or read the books it was based on, or studied the play in English – standing in line to go into the auditorium is not the time to start talking about the big plot twists or even the cute little touches towards the middle. Talk about how excited you are, talk about puppies, talk about the weather – but don’t ruin things for people who might be this close to getting to watch without knowing the whole plot in advance.
  • Be friendly and polite to the front-of-house staff. They’re looking after you and making sure you get the best possible experience, after all, and a little respect isn’t much to ask in return.
  • Go to the toilet before it starts. This goes double in the theatre, but whatever you’re seeing, it’s better for everyone if you go now and minimise the chances of having to miss a bit of the show or block someone’s view as you sneak out.
  • Unwrap sweets before it starts. If you’re allowed sweets or other snacks in the auditorium, try to keep them relatively quiet to avoid disturbing others. There’s not much noise control to be done on popcorn, unfortunately, but you can limit the amount of plastic-based rustling you produce.
  • Don’t answer back. If you’re going to see Rocky Horror, you can ignore this point, but otherwise, try to save your witty comebacks for when you’re watching the DVD at home later. Not everyone is going to appreciate the same sort of jokes you do, and people might miss lines if they have to strain to hear over your wit (however golden). Occasionally, a big reaction can tie an audience together – we all laughed when someone near the front shouted ‘genius’ at Cornelius Fudge in my screening of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – but don’t try to force it, or keep up a running commentary.
  • Don’t push to get out first. That’s rude, and you might hurt someone.
  • Let people pass if they need to. If someone needs to get past you to get into or out of their seat, please let them, even if you’re intent on staying until the end of the credits. You don’t have to leave, but they might need to!
  • Take your rubbish with you. If you’ve brought in drinks or snacks, take any rubbish with you. There’ll be bins in the foyer or you can ask one of the people cleaning the auditorium to put it in their rubbish bags, but picking it up and taking it where it needs to go is a huge help to people who may only have twenty minutes or so to get the place spotless for another showing.
  • Enjoy yourself! As always, that’s the point!

Eleanor Musgrove (just wants everyone to be able to enjoy these great experiences)

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This entry was posted in FW Tips, Issue Forty-One and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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