Snide Remarks #66
by Eric D. Snider
Published in The Daily Herald on April 16, 1999
To the theater-goers who talk during the shows: Can you do me a favor? Can you shut up? I do not advocate violence of any kind, but if these people were to be hit in the head with bricks, I would not be bothered by it. Also, I would pay for the bricks.
I partake of live theater on a regular basis, and I am increasingly amazed at the inconsiderate behavior of people who, to look at them, you would not assume to have been raised by hyenas, although this is apparently the case.
I'm not talking about people having long, drawn-out conversations during a show. This doesn't happen very often, and when it does, I have enough faith in the justice and karma of the universe to assume that the guilty parties are by some means struck dead as soon as they get to the parking lot afterward.
No, I'm talking about little statements here and there -- things you utter to the person next to you in what you think is a whisper but which can actually be heard by those around you. Things that are not only distracting to other audience members, but that are also usually quite stupid to begin with.
For example, if you do not understand why a character in the play has done something, I'm afraid that's just too bad. You are not allowed to "whisper" to your companion, "Why did she do that?" Because then your buddy is going to have to explain it to you, requiring more talking -- and that's if he or she even knows. There's a good chance you're not supposed to know why she did it, and that the whole purpose of the play is to FIND OUT why she did it, thus making your initial question all the stupider.
Also, statements on the order of "He's a good actor" or "That's a pretty dress she's wearing" can easily wait until intermission. Believe it or not, it is actually possible to think something without also saying it. Many people are even somewhat selective in what they choose to vocalize and what they choose to keep to themselves. Try this; it can be a rewarding experience.
And if you just don't hear very well -- Hale Center Theater audience members, whose average age is 112, I'm talking to you here -- then perhaps an activity that requires you to do a lot of hearing is not the thing for you. Having your seatmate repeat every other line of dialogue is annoying to those around you. It's even worse when 80 percent of the audience is doing this, and those with average hearing (I know this doesn't include you, but try to imagine it) have to hear every punch line being repeated all around the theater. Until theaters begin doing their plays with subtitles, or until actors start using megaphones to scream their dialogue directly into your gnarled, useless ears, maybe an evening at home with a large-print book is more the thing for you.
Still, when I hear someone talking during a show, I doubt I'll ever do what I'd like to do, which is to look at them sternly and say, "Hey! Shut it!" I guess I'm just too nice.
But really. Shut up, all right?
Copyright © Eric D. Snider.
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