Some recent (slightly cranky) thoughts on attention and good audience behaviour:
Be interesting enough to take photos of and record
If the person next to me taking photo is more interesting or too distracting compared to what is on stage – that’s the performances problem not the audience members.
That person is a fan - or potential fan. A fan who is so excited by what they’re seeing that they want to share.
Choir!Choir!Choir has been successful mostly because it’s a great idea, led well (a lesson for theatre in there too.) ALSO, it’s a great idea that has been documented well and shared - allowing it to spread.
Anyone here have a serious current issue with bootleg images and recordings ruining their business plan?
Anyone here have a serious problem with too many fans who care about what you’re doing?
I hate to speak for others, but I’m going to wager the answers are no.
Yes, yes of course – “But my show’s that’s not a like that, it’s quiet and delicate flower and requires full attention” – sure you can still try to arrest with quiet quality - I love those shows too. The show I can barely imagine breathing in, let alone take a picture.
I believe that coming together in quiet reflection and solidarity is needed in this world – especially for us secular folks who don’t have the space provided by religious practice.
I think there are people who really want and need that, and that it’s a service that theatre can provide some of the time.
None of these beliefs are going to change what the audience walks in the door with. That’s my work as an artist.
It seems likely that the focused perfect submission in the dark room is no longer going to be the norm. The brief period between the integration of electricity and middle class decorum through to the invention of the ubiquitous computer/camera/connection device may have been the heyday for our quiet shows. But, with the rate of theatre’s adaptation, we’ve still got time - as long as we don’t need new people to come.
Take our attention
If you have to harangue us with volunteers and pleading from the stage to pay attention you are: a) doing it wrong. b) doing it at the wrong time c) doing it in the wrong place d)all of the above. - Taylor Mac taught me that in a heartbeat.
We’re so busy threatening to charge people with transgressing, we’ve forgotten our job is to arrest and encourage them.
We’re supposed to lead, not plead for a return to yesteryear.