Author Topic: Patrons behaving badly  (Read 5515 times)

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dallas10086

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Patrons behaving badly
« on: Jul 10, 2015, 12:11 pm »
In honor (or horror) of the rash of patron atrocities this week, including this incident with Miss Patti: http://playbill.com/news/article/patti-lupone-addresses-audience-at-last-nights-shows-another-cell-phone-rings-353042 and this incident with this guy: http://www.playbill.com/news/article/weve-got-the-footage-audience-member-tries-to-use-stage-outlet-to-charge-phone-at-hand-to-god-352826, spill your experiences of patrons behaving badly. Nothing of the "oops I didn't realize I shouldn't do that" variety, but the flat-out "I'm well aware this is wrong but I'm going to do/say this anyway."

DeeCap

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Re: Patrons behaving badly
« Reply #1 on: Jul 10, 2015, 12:49 pm »
Oh sooo many...

Years ago I was ASM for "Shirley Valentine" which was a one woman show. We had two sets, the first one was in a kitchen, and the second one was a beach. A beach with real sand.

People were curious about seeing if it was real sand, so they would come up to touch, grab, take. Me and my backstage crew had to stand there and say "It is real, and we ask that you do not touch the sand".

When I saw a woman reach out I said the above, and she said "Oh but I have to".  And then proceeded to caress the sand.  She then tried to have a discussion with me about between the similarites of this show and "The Heidi Chronicles".  I said "Uh, I don't know". She was upset that we didn't have a full blown literary discussion while she was petting the sand that she walked away.

Another time I used to work summers out at Tanglewood, where they have concerts. People can purchase season lawn passes, which you can sit on the lawn for free for all the concerts.
One person took it too far and thought it was an actual backstage pass. After the concert the crew was busy getting large instruments offstage when he would come back and flash his season pass at us and walk right onstage with his friends.
When we tried to explain that it was not a backstage pass he would argue that he was allowed to do this because he had a lawn pass. The crew would then try to run him over with a piano.



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SMrose

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Re: Patrons behaving badly
« Reply #2 on: Jul 10, 2015, 03:57 pm »
I did a production of Smell of the Kill in an intimate black box theatre (60 or so seats).  An audience member entered late, walked up to the cast and asked where to sit.  One of the actresses told her (nicely) and the show continued.

Gaby

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Re: Patrons behaving badly
« Reply #3 on: Jul 10, 2015, 06:03 pm »
I was an ASM for a SPT in a resort town. On house right there was a curtain that led to backstage. In the middle of a performance a woman burst through the curtain so she could make a call. After politely telling her that she was backstage and should exit to the lobby if she needed to absolutely take or make a call, she began to read aloud the text messages her daughter had sent her about the horse emergency she was having because I was not taking her seriously. Turns out one of her horse handlers had fed the horse something it was allergic to.

SamanthaR

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Re: Patrons behaving badly
« Reply #4 on: Jul 10, 2015, 08:35 pm »
In our production of 1 Man 2 Guvnors this season...  I had just called places when a patron decided to walk up onto the stage and and make a b line for SL.  He was in search of the actor playing Francis because he had to tell him to "Pick him to move the trunk".  My crew kindly escorted him back to the lobby.  When that moment came in the show you bet his was the first hand up oh so high and he just walked himself right up to the stage again, without even being picked. 
wee but mighty

MatthewShiner

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Re: Patrons behaving badly
« Reply #5 on: Jul 11, 2015, 07:15 pm »
I don't know - I try to cut the audience a bit of slack.

Although we spend every day in the theatre, this maybe their first time, or come so rarely.

I am working on a show right now that pulls in a lot of families, a lot of first time theater goers, and a lot of international patrons.  I am amazed at how they treat it like watching a movie, or even worse, watching TV.  I am not sure what the answer is . . . but house management and ushers are always the first line of defense . . .
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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

PSMKay

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Re: Patrons behaving badly
« Reply #6 on: Jul 11, 2015, 08:19 pm »
"These are the youths that thunder at a playhouse,
 and fight for bitten apples; that no audience, but
 the Tribulation of Tower-hill, or the Limbs of
 Limehouse, their dear brothers, are able to endure." - Shakespeare, Henry VIII

lsears

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Re: Patrons behaving badly
« Reply #7 on: Jul 13, 2015, 08:00 am »
A few years ago I did a show where we had a popcorn maker start mid-intermission, so that the Act 2 lights up were on the cast eating the popcorn as it overflowed.  Almost every other show a patron would walk onstage to see if the popcorn was real, touching, smelling, eating...

loebtmc

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Re: Patrons behaving badly
« Reply #8 on: Jul 13, 2015, 01:17 pm »
I have done onstage "bars" for several shows - Cabaret, Song of Singapore etc - and inevitably audience members wander up there to try and buy drinks (cuz, I guess, the lobby bar is just too damn far away.....)

Michelle R. Wood

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Re: Patrons behaving badly
« Reply #9 on: Jul 13, 2015, 04:03 pm »
I tend to agree with Matthew on this one. Yes, people shouldn't do these things, but if it is a person's first time at a theatre (maybe a friend invited him/her, maybe it's a "let's try this out) we can't make any assumptions. Moreover, modern theatre conventions are just that: conventions we've established over time to adapt to the way we currently perform live theatre. They are not set in stone nor that historic. I don't like the fact that many theatres allow drinks inside the space, and yet I recognize it's a change made by these places to be more accomodating to changing audiences and certainly not an entirely new phenomena in the grand history of the stage.

I think this blog post really sums up what we show do as theatre professionals (found on Twitter): "Plan Rocker Show Stopper" by Travis Bedard, especially this part:

Quote
But mostly? We need stop crushing folks who break one of the unwritten rules. Should you know better than hopping on stage? Of course. But this guy is an international laughing stock, Google bombed for the rest of his life because he showed up too drunk to a possessed puppet show and disrespected the altar. Maybe we could treat him as though he were a person.
"Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." -- Thomas Edison (Harper's Magazine, 1932)

SamanthaR

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Re: Patrons behaving badly
« Reply #10 on: Jul 13, 2015, 07:45 pm »
Thank you for this reminder.   I worked TYA for many years, sometimes I forget all adults haven't made it to the theatre already.

In my story this patron should have known better, but, I suppose we should have looked at it as a compliment that he wanted to come and play with the cast so bad he couldn't stay in his seat.

I tend to agree with Matthew on this one. Yes, people shouldn't do these things, but if it is a person's first time at a theatre (maybe a friend invited him/her, maybe it's a "let's try this out) we can't make any assumptions. Moreover, modern theatre conventions are just that: conventions we've established over time to adapt to the way we currently perform live theatre. They are not set in stone nor that historic. I don't like the fact that many theatres allow drinks inside the space, and yet I recognize it's a change made by these places to be more accomodating to changing audiences and certainly not an entirely new phenomena in the grand history of the stage.

I think this blog post really sums up what we show do as theatre professionals (found on Twitter): "Plan Rocker Show Stopper" by Travis Bedard, especially this part:

Quote
But mostly? We need stop crushing folks who break one of the unwritten rules. Should you know better than hopping on stage? Of course. But this guy is an international laughing stock, Google bombed for the rest of his life because he showed up too drunk to a possessed puppet show and disrespected the altar. Maybe we could treat him as though he were a person.
wee but mighty

bex

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Re: Patrons behaving badly
« Reply #11 on: Jul 13, 2015, 08:35 pm »
I had a patron yell at me once because I wouldn't let his six-year-old daughter go down the fireman's pole on the set. It was post-show and I saw him from the wings pick his child up and put her on the set, and point towards the pole. I came out from backstage with a polite "Sir, we can't let anyone on the stage" etc which he ignored, and the child was halfway up the stairs by this point. I went over to her, said "Hey kiddo, let's go back to your dad!" she said ok, and we walked back over to the edge of the stage together, at which point I got a "WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING GET AWAY FROM MY CHILD WHO ARE YOU" like I was one who was putting her in danger...
You will have to sing for your supper & your mortgage, your dental coverage & your children's shoes, over & over again while people in desk jobs roll their eyes the minute you start to complain. So it's a good thing you like to sing.

Michelle R. Wood

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Re: Patrons behaving badly
« Reply #12 on: Jul 13, 2015, 09:17 pm »
bex: You bring up a good point. Inconvience and annoyance are one thing, but patron/cast/crew safety is another. Regardless of how upset someone gets, keeping that person and others from harm should be a high priority.
"Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." -- Thomas Edison (Harper's Magazine, 1932)

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PSMKay

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Re: Patrons behaving badly
« Reply #13 on: Jul 13, 2015, 09:56 pm »
So we know that audience members are going to do stupid things. Sometimes it's because they're new to theatre. Sometimes its due to excessive entitlement/fandom/curiosity. We know that his has been the case going back to Shakespeare's day and earlier.

What precautions can we as stage managers take to protect the performance area or counteract this sort of behavior?

I recall one theatre in the round that made a point to dress desk drawers with in-period envelopes and writing utensils as they knew the house would come up and rifle through the furniture during intermission. Are there other measures - prohibitive or welcoming - that we can take?

VSM

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Re: Patrons behaving badly
« Reply #14 on: Jul 14, 2015, 02:16 am »
My god mic works wonders before and after shows to "direct" patrons off the stage...
Ordo ab chao

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