Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The Theatre of Dreams... or Nightmares?

The theatre... The last bastion of common decency and polite behaviour... well, apparently not anymore. This week, The Times reported that many London theatres are complaining about large increases in unruly patrons. It's got so bad that it's becoming a regular occurrence for the Police to be called in to help eject some of these odious audiences. The article went on to say that the theatres are now fighting back and are now in the process of employing security staff and bouncers to ensure the public keep in line. Here's just a few of the delights that have been happening in our historic auditoriums lately DURING a performance:

  • Fighting between audience members;
  • A male audience member walking to the side of the stage and urinating;

  • A woman caught 'pleasuring' her partner in the stalls;

  • Unrequested audience participation;

  • Not only phones going off, but people answering them and having conversations;

  • Audience members walking to the front of the stage to take photos on their mobile phones;

  • Incoherent shouting and abuse; and

  • House staff being verbally and physically abused.

As a rule, I do try to suppress the snob inside me, but at times he gets the better of me, and he definitely did on reading this article! (actually, I don't really think I'm being a snob in expecting people to have some manners and behave courteously).... The theatre used to be nice quaint (and quiet!) way for people to enjoy an evening out didn't it? Nothing was more cultured than popping down to the West End and getting engrossed in a gripping thriller, or perhaps a rare old farce (with the obligatory eight quid ice cream at half time of course!). But it looks as though the great unwashed are putting paid to that pastime for us. They have already ruined the cinema experience... I no longer go, as the last few times I did, I came out seething with anger at the ignorant cretins enclosed within, and their inane, constant chatter, mobile phones, noisy bags etc, and now they are turning their attention to the theatre. But hold on, didn't an evening of 'thespian-ism' used to be classed as "boring" to these types?? Well yes, indeed it did, but have you checked out the 'what's on in London' guides lately? Just like our TV, theatre is being 'dumbed down' before our very eyes. See if you can find more than a couple of powerful, thought provoking plays these days. You'll still find the thinking man (and woman)'s plays out on the fringes, but they have all but been removed from the West End now in favour of dozens of low rent, cheesy musicals.

Shite, disposable Saturday evening talent shows have a lot to answer for. Unfortunately, the type of people who can be entertained by and persuaded to vote for a new 'Joseph', 'Maria' or ' Sandy and Danny', are also the same people who will go see the resulting performance. The lure of easy money for putting on 'lowest common denominator' shows, has created the by-product of a new, low-rent punter, for whom going to the theatre is an alien experience. Oddly they don't seem to know how to behave, and therefore start the evening in much the same way as any other of their nights out (i.e. excess alcohol), thus ensuring half the audience is half cut before the curtain even rises. It would also seem that these people are also unaware of the finer protocols of theatre-going.... such as not wanking or pissing during the performance for example..

So well done theatres of London, I for one have little sympathy for your current plight, it's no good moaning about it now. I saw it coming a mile off, and you should have too. What is that line about reaping what you sow??

(Grumpy Old) Piley

24 comments:

Heff said...

Holy Pee-Wee Herman ! Those acts are inexcusable !

Cocktails said...

Woo-hoo, Piley, go the snobby attitude!

I completely agree. The West End is full of cheap filler which obviously attracts a certain type of audience, so yes, what did they expect?

On the other hand though we should be worried. Apart from the disintegration in manners, most of the West End's income is from tourists in town coming to see a show. God knows what they think of 'London's famous West End' when they see people fighting in the aisles.

There is still good stuff around though. You just have to go outside of the West End mainstream to find it. I bet, well, I KNOW that people don't piss and wank at the National Theatre, Old Vic, Royal Court etc. Not yet anyway.

Ishouldbeworking said...

I reckon Devo were right all along. We are living in a time of de-evolution, where despite technical and material advances,the species Homo Sapiens is regressing fast.

We're currently somewhere around the mid/late nineteenth century, as evidenced by brawling in the music halls, a 'popular' culture dominated by penny dreadfuls (Heat, Grazia, etc), a massive and resentful social underclass (goes on for eight pages and is eventually sedated).

Give it another five years and the groundlings won't just be pissing in the aisles, they'll be pelting the actors with dead dogs and selling their own kids in the intervals. The days of the eight quid Cornetto, and an Ayckbourn comedy with that bloke who used to be in 'Bread', will seem like the golden age of British theatre.

In any case, I hardly ever go now. Thirty five quid to sit on a rock-hard seat designed for someone with three inch legs, and watch Nigel Havers ponce around pretending it's 1932 and he fancies Liza Goddard? You're having a laugh, mate.

Anonymous said...

Like every thing else these day's it's become about making a quick and BIG buck. So they go the reality tv route of dumbing down and trotting out lowest common denominator shite in order to do so. Of course in comes Mr Thicko "are you looking at my girl friend" Wanker and they only have them selves to blame for putting on such garbage. I've never been to the theatre, i'm not at all cultured and don't give a fuck either :-), how ever i do know how to behave EVERY WHERE i go and find the kind of behavior you've listed intollerable ANY WHERE and sadly it's creeping in to different areas now like theatre. It's all part of the great dumbing down. Quick buck , churn out rubbish that the social under classes understand and fuck every body else. I HATE the way things are going BUT remember there are plenty of decent good people out there too, sadly we never seem to remember them :-(.

Carl (even more grumpy and amazed i've managed to controll my self to a paragraph here).

Dan said...

What a splendid article, Mr. P.

I was reminded of the actions of veteran actor Richard Griffiths who has, according to reports, stopped performances three times in the past due to ringing phones. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/4458810.stm

Apparently, it's now illegal for your phone to go off in theatres in New York, punishable with a fine. Also, I recall reading that some venues were considering turning the entire theatre into a giant Faraday Cage, effectively blocking all electronic signals from getting in or out.

When you lie down with dogs, you'll rise with fleas. Not sure how that's relevant, but it sounds appropriately pompous so I'll stick with it.

Piley said...

Heff - Pee-Wee Herman bad??! Geez..

Cocktails - The 'tourist' angle is a good point... mind you, i've pretty much given up on apologising to my American cousin for the state of London... yeah i'm sorry its so dirty, i'm sorry its such a rip off. i'm sorry the people are so rude etc etc

BELLS!!! WHISTLES!!! STREAMERS!!! MORE BELLS!!! HOW BOUT A HONKIN HORN??!!

ISBW - you are the 1000th commenter on 'start the revolution without me'! You win... erm, naff all, but thanks anyway!!

That is such a good point, and one i've mulled over a few times too... how come if we're such a civilised and progressive race, we seem to be permanently going backwards?? Ignorance and stupidity is all around these days... You are right, we are heading back to the dark ages. Love the 'seats for people with 3" legs" line!! I'm 6ft 4, and lasting a show in the cheap seats is like a endurance test.

Carl - Yup, the TV shows are designed for the Big Brother generation, and guess what, the idiots are now venturing out of their houses!!! ;-) I predicted this would happen (well, not the piss and wank bits, but the arrival of low rent punters), but the theatres only saw pound signs in front of their eyes... good luck to em...

Daniel-san! You are indeed turning into Mr Miyagi day by day with your pearls of wisdom! I loved that one! You'd think the installing of a mobile 'jammer' would be relatively simple wouldn’t you? I can't believe they haven’t been doing it for years already. I guess someone will bleat about their 'human rights' at not being contactable 24x7... gawd, how did we survive two and a half hours in the theatre before mobiles??

P

Col said...

There's far too many scum about for my liking that have no idea how to behave in public. Not that I have a problem with yer average Johhny Forigner types, but this new influx of Eastern Europeans is making life quite difficult because they are mostly an ignorant bunch and are pretty much an underclass in their home countries, so to come here and think that they are settling in nicely is somewhat odd, even to me. However, it's not just yer forigners who are to blame. Chav culture is prevelant today. One only has to look at txtspk as an example. Any culture that can bugger its language through twitter/mobile phones etc. gets what it deserves. Look at black Americans. Any race/creed/culture that describes itself as niggers and its women as hoes (not the garden variety) again - deserves all it gets. They should all be shot. The one thing Hitler had right - And this isn't a pro Nazi rant nor is it a racist slur so dont' start flaming me etc. - was that he wanted to rid himself of the scum. Now to what point does one define the term 'scum'? Allways a problem that one. However, I've been saying it for years but what this country needs is a benign dictator who can lead us back to a decent moral standard of living happily amongst our neighbours. We need to get back to living like we did back in 1934. Respect with a capital R etc. None of this fuck you I'm alright Jack attitude. Where on earth did that come from? Society is presently screwed and it's only going to get worse. I try not to mix with the rubbish if at all possible but they're everywhere. There's no escape. I often snort at the news of yet another teenage stabbing in London. "Oh it's terrible" I hear people say on radio talk shows. But when I ring up and say it's because they are all from a socio economic black underclass and it's all black on black crime centered around certain council estates in Peckham - they don't want to bleedin' well listen! I've stopped bothering. And thsi will probably be my last rant on the subject. After all, who cares?

Anonymous said...

I agree with many of your points Col but a dictator , benign or other wise aint the way to go. We just need some government with some back bone and common sense. A government that actually cares about US the british people and is not lining it's pockets and generally not getting it right. We let too many useless lazy fucks in and we have enough of those of our own. It should be more like Austarlia where they say "well what can you do for us" rather than letting no hoper's in like we do. I really like the fact that you have stuck your neck out here and actually said what you think. Too many people don't, many of your points are spot on but a few sounded like a BNP party political Broadcast. You've gotta watch it does not go too far that way or that's just as bad and equally scum. Working class people are already getting duped into voting in the Nazi's in suits to "clean up or country and get rid of the scum" gotta watch that. Dictators and BNP aint the answer. I do applaud you for sticking your neck out though Col.

Carl.

Col said...

I'm gonna come back on this one becaue Carl's comments have given me food for thought. When I talk about begnine dictatorships I am actually thinking along the lines of another Maggie gawd bless 'er because it would only be somebody like her that woudl have the balls to actually say "What have you got to offer this country before you can come in?" Carl makes very strong points here and anybody reading this thread needs to understand that the UK is nothing more than Europe's dumping ground for the fuckwit underclasses of Europe. We get the rubbish that nobody else wants. And what's worse, we give 'em houses, jobs, benefits (free money for not working/contributing) and more besides such as a free education and so forth. Why? I haven't a clue. Can we (this country) afford it? I don't think so. There aren't enough jbs to go round now, so why keep the doors open for more uneducated rubbish to keep pouring through. We have got to make a stand and change this now or we will live to regret it further. And no, I do not think like a BNP or a facist. I'm just a hard working middle ageds tory voter who is sick of his politics having been so unfashionable for so long. The country and the economy is fucked. And that's not putting it lightly. The country is broken and wants fixing. I say stand up and be counted people. Maybe for just oen moment in time. But stand up you must when the election comes of you will get what you deserve/vote for. Change has to come or we will have nothing left. The fabric of our society will be erroded to the point where we will be buying Saturday night special guns just to protect our homes - because the rate of have nots is going to increase and they will want their share. And, what they can't get through government hand outs at the taxp[ayers expense they will take via crime. Mark my words. Init.

Anonymous said...

I hear ya , i've got two kids and i genuinely fear for the future too. We do let too many useless clodds in and yeah we give em too much too. I agree with ya Col. It just really worries me that people think the BNP is the way forward (not you, i do hear you here) those guys wont fix nowt. There needs to be some government with back bone. The law needs changing too, too many light sentences meated out for disgusting crimes against kids and women and the old. The law is a joke and gives out pathetic taps on the wrist. If prison was run my way they would NEVER want to go back i tell ya. People have the power yet 99.9% of em just don't realise it. You make some good points mate , your original rant just made me a little wooaaahh careful dude :-).

Carl.(sorry for taking over here Piley)

Nazz Nomad said...

Unlike the missus and princess nomad, I do not like the theater. i get very uncomfortable sitting for a couple of hours, unable to make snarky remarks. As a result, I avoid the theater, unless there's something very cool (The Rocky Horror Show in London was the only performance we saw years ago in the UK!)and/or bizarre (The Evil Dead musical in NYC... complete with fake blood spraying the first few rows.

As noted thespian Clint Eastwood said : "A Man's Gotta Know His Limitations".

Or something.

Dan said...

I'm going to play devil's advocate here a little bit and present a number of alternate views to Col and Carl's comments.

1. British Society.
Remember Margaret Thatcher's views on society? Allow me to reproduce her comments from 1987 in case you've forgotten them:

"I think we've been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it's the government's job to cope with it. 'I have a problem, I'll get a grant.' 'I'm homeless, the government must house me.' They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first."

This led directly to the type of society we have now which is, generally, best summed up by the quote "I'm alright Jack, pull the ladder up."

We've lost view of the fact that we're all one people, one country and, at the risk of sounding like a tree-caressing, yoghurt-worrying hippy, one world.

Thatcher wanted to break-down the concept of a helpful society where the post-war spirit of "let's all pull together" carried us along and, instead, create one where we all strived to be insular and selfish. Well, congratulations to her, because she succeeded.

2. The immigration myth.
There seems to be a view that immigration is, in general, a bad thing. I'm not convinced of this.

Back in the 50's a 60's, a lot of black people arrived in the UK. Reaction was mixed, with some claiming that it was the end of Great Britain. Read the full text of Enoch Powell's 'Rivers of Blood' speech to get a flavour of the hysteria.
Strangely, the UK carried on as normal in the end. We haven't suffered as a result of black immigration.

Later, in the 70's and 80's, it was the turn of people from India and Pakistan. They were the new enemy, coming over here, 'taking our jobs' and buying property. 30-years later, it turns out that it wasn't that big a deal. They've contributed to society, paid taxes and done very well for themselves.

Now it's 2009 and the we have a choice of boogeyman - either Eastern Europeans or Muslims. Take your pick as to which group will be "the downfall of the UK". I confidently predict that in 20-years time, someone else will be the bad guy and we'll be wondering what all the fuss was over the Polish and Romanians.

3. The media.
You only have to take a look at the likes of the Daily Mail to see the disturbing trend towards demonising people, whether they're black, eastern european, muslim or chavs.

The obvious thing to take away from the newspapers is that for every chav sticking a knife into someone, there will be ten thousand chavs who, on that particular day, just went about their business quite happily. That, of course, won't make it into the papers.

And what of the fabricated stories? Remember the tabloid article about the muslim bus driver who ordered all his passengers off because he had to pray to Mecca? Completely fabricated. It never happened. I can provide a link, if required, to the article that investigated this and found it to be a lie.

So, what can we conclude from all this?

We have a society obsessed with looking after number one, with a reduced sense of civic pride and responsibility; a media that bombards us with horror stories about how terrifying everything is, and why it's the fault of immigrants, muslims, chavs, the working classes, hell, anybody but us.

I rather suspect that we're the authors of our own destruction, railing against whoever happens to be the enemy of the week because we're too afraid to look at ourselves and realise that perhaps the problem is a little closer to home than we realised.

Like I said, devil's advocate. :o)

Anonymous said...

Some very interesting points there Dan. I gotta say i've never voted Tory, never will, my parents were hard working working class people who earned low wages and they really suffered under her regime. My Dad HATES her with a passion. My wifes parents had two good wages coming in and did very nicely thank you under her. She fucked the working classes over big time. I didn't mention this as i was not having a political exchange of views with Col (nor do i wish to) I actually hate politics i don't trust any of em BUT i do feel politians CONTINUALLY let us down. I only vote to keep some one out. The law is weak and so is the government.

You may also notice i never mentioned , blacks, mulims, jews or any body else. I only mentioned use less lazy fucks, English, Pakistani, German i don't care where they are from , if they sit with thier hands out for dole and benefit contributing nothing to society i don't like em. I wont tolerate a prick who can not shut up in a theatre or behave in public, again English, foreign what ever. The fact is WE DO let in a lot of use less people (and some damned good hard working ones i has too be said) it's a fact.

As for the media i'm in total agreement with you here, they peddle fear and they sensationalize and over react to things and they bare faced fucking lie (like the bus driver story, pure racial bullshit to stir up trouble). They create half the paranoia and problems and should have stricter guide lines.

As for blame, well all i know is i get up , i work , i'm studying too (to be a counsellor), i try and bring my kids up right, with manners and respect i try and treat people the way i'd like to be treated. Ok i do swear a bit :-)i stand up and say my peice and i try and make a difference if i can and i try and do the right thing. If i'm adding to the problem by being a decent person then i guess i'm fucked eh ?.

I do agree with you we all need to look at our selves too rather than just damning others but y'know i don't go around stabbing , robbing, rapeing and wanking in theatres, so i figure i'm doing ok.

I don't see your view being an alternative to mine at all. Responsibility starts at home and with how you live your life, I'm living mine best i can, there's good and bad in every one BUT the fact is people are out there doing these anti social things and standards are dropping how do we stop it ???.

Answers on a post card please Mr devils advocate :-).

Carl.

Anonymous said...

Blimey Piley, you've opened up a can of worms here. I was going to make a comment about employing a couple of snipers in the boxes to take the fuckwits out but at the moment it seems that this might appear to make me look some limp wristed liberal. On a slightly more serious note when i was young about the only thing my dad ever tried to force on me was to show respect and consideration for other people along with some manners. This has made more sense as I have got older and a policy I have tried to adopt with my own son. However, this approach seems to be sorely lacking these days. The sort of behaviour you've described is intolerable and the people involved should be evicted from the building, preferably via the rooftop. One last thing regarding the women caught sorting out her boyfriend in the stalls, I don't suppose you've got a phone number and know if she's free next week do you?

Piley said...

Thanks everyone... wow, what a debate! Quite how we got there via chavs in the theatre i'm not sure, but it's made really interesting reading, and importantly, has been well thought out. I don't agree with everything, but that doesn't matter, we are all entitled to our opinions and Col, Carl and Dan have expressed theirs well.

I'll say this... I don't blame a single solitary person for attempting to get relocated to the UK. Let’s be fair, if we lived under an oppressive or violent regime, we'd all want to get out to... and if you heard about the generosity and safety being handed out in another country, I’m sure we'd all do what we could to secure ourselves and our families a better life. The blame has to be put fairly and squarely at the feet of the politicians who implemented the system and then stood back and did nothing when it was obviously being abused.

I think all people want is to be treated fairly, but it isn't happening. The frustration felt by many can, if not careful, lead to extremists, and that’s no good either. People like the BNP feed on this and must rub their hands with every new story.

I have a friend who is a Muslim... Whenever you get one of those crap stories in the paper about "ohh, we can't have Christmas, it upsets the Muslims" he just hangs his head... he knows it just means he's going to get a load of gyp in the streets for the next few days. He couldn't care less if we have Christmas or not (his kids wouldnt allow them NOT to have Christmas to be honest!! they insist on a tree and presents and everything), and he knows of no other Muslims who care either way. It's just invented, like the bus story, to create problems.

Anon - honest, I never DID open up this particular can!!! I too will be bringing my boy up with those same morals... I just fear I’ll be setting him up for a life of misery, as I find peoples attitude and behavior appalling... It can really upset me sometimes. Yet if you are one of those who don’t give a flying one about anyone else, nothing can hurt you. Ignorance is bliss??! The sniper in the royal box sounds like a grand idea!!

P

Wil said...

It's the same shite over on this side of the pond too Mate. Man, I almost sounded like one of the lads there for a minute didn't I? I'm still trying to work "chuffed" into my daily vocabulary. LOL

Anyway, there's nothing sacred anymore when it comes to manners or respect. Even at all of 41 I can see how much society has decayed and declined. Then again, I work at The LoveTel. It doesn;t get much more depressing than this as far as language and social skills, etc.

Wil Harrison.com

Col said...

Is technology ultimately to blame for our steady decline? Think about that for a minute. Now cast your mind back to the early 90's. No internet. No mobile cell phones/cameras/videos. No 24 hour rolling news media (in UK at least). No iPods. No such thing as an Mp3. Life was more open and simpler then. In many respect the things that are supposed to enrich our daily lives are probably ruining them slowly without our noticing. Nobody would have thought that it could be this proliferation of cheap technology that could actualy be undermining the fabric of our society. Maybe it is? Maybe we could all become tree hugging types of all political persuasions and it would no longer matter because we would be opening up our lives once again instead of cocooning ourselves with technology. I read an intersting article in the Sunday paper that said that it was OK for us all to be shut off from each other in family life just so long as we were all shut off in the same room as each other! Hmmm...

Anyway. Good points raised by one adn all. Thanks Piley. Your blog soemtimes does get the blood pumping. I'm glad to have a place where decency and good standards hold steady. Thanks pal.

Anonymous said...

I think there is a lot of truth in what you say there Col. I wont elaborate cos i've gone on enough. A good debate, i enjoyed that. At the end of the day no matter how we put our points over we all want the same thing i think. A better world for us and our kids.

Carl.

E F RICE said...

Hello Piley. I was going to mention an interview I saw with Aussie cricket legend Richie Benaud at the weekend, referring to disgraceful behaviour by England supporters at test grounds this summer. Given the comments so far and how wide reaching the debate has become, I'll bend your ear next time at the pub !

PS - Wanking in theatres, whatever next !!!

Piley said...

Nazz - Evil Dead THE MUSICAL???!! Oh man, you gotta tell us more about that one!!!

Wil - i'm chuffed you commented mate ;-) I think you've nailed it, it's all about respect, and there is little of i about. People are so wrapped up in their own little world and don't give a damn about others. I find that really upsetting.


Col\Carl - the 'techno' debate is an interesting one... I walk down the high street at lunchtime, and everyone is plugged ino gadgets. I see people going to the cash desk with earphones in, so they dont even communicate with the cashier, also people who have a conversation on the phone whilst at the checkout. That is so rude to ignore a fellow human like that.

EF - you shoulda done! It's another great example of how common decency is going down the pan. Cricket was always a game where the crowd was polite wasn't it? People say "yeah but the Australians have been behaving like that for years"... but is that a good enough reason for us to too?

P

E F RICE said...

Couldn't agree more mate on the cricket. Without boring you too much Richie was saying how cricket crowd behaviour is a reflection of society. The comparison was made on how much more respect there was for the game and crowd banter was there, but respectful to the game through the 50's to the 80's.

Really interesting to hear his views and I personally don't see the attraction in paying 50 quid plus for a test ticket, getting off my head and booing the Aussie skipper (which makes him play even f***** better !).

Sorry really must do a cricket blog at some point. Speaking of which I reckon this is my half century of comments on your blog !

Piley said...

It would ruin it for me to sit there in the middle of that, EFR. Especially for a whole day.. My dad used to take me to England cricket games in the 70's and 80's and I found it a wonder to see all these people so well behaved... a stark contrast to the football fans of that time. I was astounded that the English fans would applaud a good shot or wicket on the other side... but it was a good shot or wicket!! and deserved appreciation.

Ripple of polite applause for EFR, as he raises his mouse to all 4 corners of the room... 51 not out! Lets see you get that century!

P

Carl said...

I'd be too busy sleeping if i went to cricket.

Piley said...

Not with this bunch around you wouldn't Carl!!