Audience Distractions – Latecomers

Audiences drive me crazy.

That might be a little harsh. And inaccurate. Perhaps a better way to put it would be, “there are certain behaviours exhibited by members of the public when they attend performances that cause me anxiety and anguish”.

Off the top of my head, I can think of about eight things that audience members do that severely hinder my (and I assume others’) enjoyment of the concert. The next few posts will detail some of my pet-peeves.

Latecomers

It happens at every concert. At the end of the overture or the first movement, the doors to the hall swing open and a dozen people try to sneak to their seats. It’s not so bad if it happens during applause, but I find it excruciating when it’s between movements and the conductor has to cast little looks over his shoulder to see if it’s O.K. for the concert to continue.

At least in concerts there’s a natural break. Theatre and dance performances often don’t, and you must attempt to ignore the usher’s flashlight as the latecomers try to find their seats. I find it especially distracting when they’re down front – no amount of hunched-over tip-toeing is going to make you invisible to the 800 of us who are trying to enjoy the show.

I know things happen. The babysitter was late, the garage was full, it took forever to get your bill at the restaurant. You’re probably stressed out from trying to race to the theatre in time. I still don’t think you should try to make it to your seat in the middle of the row. I suggest you find a quiet spot at the back and wait for the intermission.

Once upon a time, I was at a concert where the soloist instructed the front-of-house staff not to let in any latecomers until the intermission. The first half was completely devoted to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. So, if you were a couple of minutes late, you missed a memorable performance by a world-class violinist. Some might consider that unfair…but not me.

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