The “Slow Audience Participation” movement

The Wife and I saw Les Miserables at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady a couple months ago, and it was as marvelous as the reviews in the Times Union and Metroland suggested. I had never seen any stage production of Les Miz before. Though I didn’t love the movie adaptation, we were both glad to have seen it so we would better understand the plot.

Here’s what I didn’t like: During that last, very stirring, song, six or eight people got up and left, which I found really distracting, especially since they were seated near the front and in the middle section. If they were so worried about getting home, they should have left at intermission to beat the crowds. I’d never seen that particular behavior before.

It wasn’t the only annoying activity during the performance. Someone two or three seats from us kept turning on his mobile device. I don’t know if he was texting or just checking the time; no one of his generation seems to know what a watch is. I’ve seen similar behavior at the movie theaters, even the tony Spectrum Theatre in Albany. Even someone using their device on the opposite aisle and two rows up I will notice, because the illumination distracts me from the film.

At the end of Billy Elliot at Proctors in June, the lead leaves the stage via an aisle on the theater. When he makes his return, he’s literally bumping into folks getting ready to leave. (I was so annoyed.)

Some folks at the Albany Symphony Orchestra at least wait for the final note before they rush off. Likewise, movie goers depart when the credits come up, even when a bit of the movie is still going on, such as in Hope Springs and Bernie.

I was at a conference at the end of April, and two guys were talking through the introduction of the speaker, and even when the speaker began. Exasperated, I turned around, said nothing since that would have been likewise disruptive, but gave that universal palms-up symbol for, “Will you please shut up?”

Apparently, even Broadway audiences are not immune to bad behavior.

The slow food movement>was designed so that people could ENJOY eating more, by eschewing fast food, processed product cooked in the microwave, and the like. Not only is it healthier, it’s more enjoyable to be part of the process.

In the similar mode, I’m suggesting a “slow audience response” movement. Please stop talking when the speaker/movie/concert starts, and wait for the event to actually end before fumbling with your keys. You may actually enjoy it better if you are “present” at the event, rather than treating it as one more thing to check off the to-do list. I KNOW your fellow audience members will appreciate it.
The Muppets of Sesame Street tell you how to watch a movie…

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