...two things actually.
As you can tell from recent posts, I have been seeing a lot of live theater lately. In my lifetime, I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to see a lot of good theater (and bad) in a lot of different places; London, New York City, Chicago, St. Louis, and a whole lot of small local theaters, here and elsewhere.
While it pains me to say it, say it I must:
The rudest theater audiences anywhere are Peoria audiences.
Here are two ways in which their rudeness continues to astound me.
1. Texting during performances. It amazes me that anyone would even consider doing this. Patrons are instructed verbally, as well as in the program to "turn off all devices". Never once have I seen this occur anywhere else; never in Chicago, never in St. Louis. And yet it happens with increasing frequency here in Peoria.
Earlier this season at Eastlight, an extended family was seated next to me; mother, father, two boys, little girl, and grandma to my immediate right. No sooner had the lights gone down than both boys whipped out their phones and began texting. Finally, I turned to Grandma and said "Please have them put their phones away. It's very distracting." Grandma looked at me like I was from another planet and then looked back to the stage without a word, to me or to the boys. Fortunately the little girl overheard and was embarrassed enough to convince her brothers to put their phones away.
At the most recent performance at the Civic Center, a forty-ish couple sat to my left. Twice during the play, the man took out his phone and began texting, shining the phone light on everyone around him. The second time, I leaned forward to give him "the look". He was of course oblivious to it, since he was concentrating on the life-and-death messages on his screen. The woman did notice, and she simply turned her back to me. Without saying a thing to her companion, she actually sat sideways in her seat for the rest of the performance.
So, to you folks who are so very important that you cannot remain out of touch with your fan club for an entire two hours, please do everyone involved a big favor and STAY HOME!
2. Talking through the overture. Just so you know that I am not a total Theater Cop, it does not bother me if someone whispers during a performance to make a comment or ask a question of a companion. If it is done discreetly, it is no big deal.
In Peoria, however, the pre-performance chatter (which often can be closer to hootin' and hollerin' than chattering) frequently continues through the overture until the curtain goes up and the actors appear on stage.
To you people, let me explain this. In a musical, the overture is part of the play!
When the music starts, SHUT UP!
Thanks for listening.
I feel better now.