I am old-fashioned

I was always taught to be quiet and respectful of others during movies and especially at live performances (unless they are the sort that invite audience participation).

Yet I’ve been surprised, at my children’s last few school concerts, to find that parents of similar age to myself will chat through the performance, maybe shutting up only when their own child is featured. Although most of the audience members at the local Binghamton Philharmonic concerts are well-behaved, I sometimes hear people humming along or crackling candy wrappers at untoward moments. While I will practically burst my eyeballs to hold back a sneeze until a break between movements!

I’m noticing this sort of thing a lot more in movie theatres, too. And it’s not children or teenagers who seem to be the worst offenders; it’s adults who seem to think everyone around them should be delighted with their running commentary on the film. If you try to shush them, they behave as if you are the one being rude. I googled around a bit and found that audience behavior seems to be a growing problem, at all sorts of entertainment venues. For instance, the San Diego Opera has posted a set of Golden Rules of Opera Etiquette to try to address it.

But maybe I’m not so old-fashioned. During the Regency and earlier periods, the theatre and opera were places to see and be seen. People socialized and often didn’t pay much attention to what was going on on the stage, unless they were heckling the performers or throwing something at them!

Yet at some point this changed. In my googling around, I ran across a book called FASHIONABLE ACTS: Opera and Elite Culture in London, 1780-1880. A review by OPERA America Newsline states that “In a reassessment of British aristocratic culture, Jennifer Hall-Witt demonstrates how the transformation of audience behavior at London’s Italian opera – from the sociable, interactive spectatorship of the 1780s to the quiet, polite listening of the 1870s – served as a barometer of the aristocracy’s changing authority.” It looks interesting–even if the review makes my way of behaving at performances sound so stodgy! Has anyone read it?

So do people talking through movies, concerts, plays, etc…, bug you, too? Why do they do it?


About Elena Greene

Elena Greene grew up reading anything she could lay her hands on, including her mother's Georgette Heyer novels. She also enjoyed writing but decided to pursue a more practical career in software engineering. Fate intervened when she was sent on a three year international assignment to England, where she was inspired to start writing romances set in the Regency. Her books have won the National Readers' Choice Award, the Desert Rose Golden Quill and the Colorado Romance Writers' Award of Excellence. Her Super Regency, LADY DEARING'S MASQUERADE, won RT Book Club's award for Best Regency Romance of 2005 and made the Kindle Top 100 list in 2011. When not writing, Elena enjoys swimming, cooking, meditation, playing the piano, volunteer work and craft projects. She lives in upstate New York with her two daughters and more yarn, wire and beads than she would like to admit.
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