So, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming out tonight. Please silence your cell phones, no flash photography, and enjoy tonight’s performance!
Pop quiz: The preceding sentence should be followed by an audience member doing what?
A) In a normal speaking voice as if you were in your living room at home, finish your conversation that began five minutes ago about how Bobby broke up with that sleazy girl from rehab, and besides she didn’t even have a drug problem, she was just there to pick up men, and can you believe Bobby fell for that? Can you? You’re not listening to me again! You never listen to me!! Why do I even……….
B)Warm up your vocal chords in preparation for singing along, full voice, to every song about to be performed, which you in fact do, proudly letting everyone within 3 rows of you know that the word ‘pitch’ is something you only associate with baseball, and look at me I know all the words, I’m the biggest fan, you didn’t really want to hear the actual artist sing did you? Glad you spent 30/50/120 dollars to sit next to me?
C) Yell “Freebird” as loud as possible, then laugh so hard you spill your beer. That this is a Broadway Musical matters not. Freebird must always be yelled by someone as cool as you. And when you notice every head around you is looking your way, in slack-jawed disbelief, be sure to pick one of them out, and say in your most incredulous tone, “What?!?!”
D) Be silent, relax, await to be entertained.
I know, this is hard. I’ll give you minute. If you answered A, B, or C, you have the uncanny ability to wait for me to purchase tickets to any random concert or live theatrical performance, then buy tickets right next to me. Every single time. How do you do that? Is there an app for that?
The correct answer, and this will apparently shock some of you, is D.
Audiencing 101 should be taught, preferably beginning in grammar school, to every person. It’s a skill set that is missing from the population. Did you know, for instance, that it’s possible to lean over to your friend/wife/complete stranger sitting next to you, and whisper something clever in a manner that does not disturb those who are listening to the performance around you? Did you know some might find it irritating when you can’t help but explain what’s about to happen in the next scene in great detail because you’ve seen Wicked 5 times now, once is Charlotte, twice in Greensboro, that horrible production of it at that outdoor amphitheater, and tonight at the glorious Tennessee Theater? All of this, with a little education, can be overcome. Performers and other audience members alike would be ever so grateful.
In this increasingly self-centered society in which we find ourselves, where relating to other people happens while staring at a flat thing, and people are more disconnected from the reality around them than ever, it’s time to remember one important fact: you, my three white wine spritzer chatty Kathy in section DD row 8; you, my frustrated shower-singer let loose on the world; you, my self-appointed expert on all things Broadway and acting and make-up; you are not the only person in the world. You are not the only person watching, listening, trying to enjoy this experience. This isn’t your living room. Please, for the love of all that is artistic and groovy, let the rest of us have our night of entertainment.
Thank you, and goodnight.
So anyway, back to Bobby. That girl he’s seeing now isn’t much better. Did you see those fish-net stockings she wore to the family reunion picnic? Aunt Susie says she must have low self-esteem, but what does Susie know? She has three glasses of wine before her fist cup of coffee every day, and speaking of coffee, did you see that new coffee shop that opened down the street? It’s so cute, and they even have a water bowl outside for your dog! Can you believe that? Are you listening to me???……………..