Quiet Down Back There

By staff November 21, 2006

Of theater and idiots.


By Hannah Wallace


I know I’ve been writing a lot about drinking and strippers, so here’s a blog about culture. And how much some people suck.


Oh, good grief, people: Can we please, for the love of all that is holy, stop talking during live performances? Because if ever physical violence were justified, it would be when someone feels compelled to pepper a Peter Shaffer play with his or her own “witty” remarks.


At the opening of Asolo Rep’s Amadeus, I was treated to a fellow audience member’s compulsion to voice his opinions mid-performance. In this case, he was predicting the characters’ actions moments before said actions occurred—a stunning feat of precognition, considering the damn play was written nearly three decades ago.


If I wanted shoddy premonitions I would’ve gone two miles up the Trail to Madam Ruby’s, dammit.


It’s not like this guy ruined my evening—he’s certainly not the worst I’ve ever sat near at an Asolo performance, and Michael Edwards’ Amadeus is pretty tough to take your mind away from. I can even sympathize with the sudden compulsion to share your epiphany or ask your neighbor if he really just said “Nipples of Venus.” But giving in to that impulse is nowhere near as satisfying as biting your tongue and experiencing the theater sans personal annotations. Trust me.


There’s a huge room full of people who can work some pretty cool magic together if you just forget yourself and take it all in.


The subtlety of human interaction, people—that’s the thing! Audience with performers, performers with audience, and, God help me, even the audience with itself. That’s what makes live performance a transcendent event. And live performance is part of what makes Sarasota famous. Outside of church (which is very nearly the same experience), theater may be the greatest aid to meditation in American culture.*


People really aren’t so over-the-top obliviously stupid that we are incapable of waiting for an appropriate time to voice our comments.


I mean, are we?


Anyway. Despite my seething, I can do little more than glare daggers (and write blogs) to discourage theater chatterers. But I can make this promise to anyone who actually dares answer his cell phone in my presence during a performance: That Nokia flip-top will be sailing across the parking lot before you even see me coming. Okay?


Thank you. Enjoy the show.


*There’s an exception to this analogy that lies in the beauty and energy of call-and-response gatherings—like a real Southern Baptist service—but most theater chatting does not equate to shouting “Halleluiah!” in the spirit of the moment.
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