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MATT GENTRY | The Roanoke Times
Mandolin virtuoso and composer Chris Thile smiles at the start of his one-man performance at the Jefferson Center in Roanoke on Thursday evening. Thile’s selections spanned centuries of music.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
I recently had the good fortune to see Chris Thile at the Jefferson Center on Oct. 10. Unfortunately, due to bad manners and poor management, I saw much more than I could hear.
As an actor and singer, I was livid by the end of the performance due to the great lack of respect paid to the beautiful venue as well as Thile.
For the first 10 minutes or so, there were several people talking loudly right outside the doors into Shaftman Performance Hall with four or five ushers standing just inches away. I even suspect the ushers were involved in the conversation due to the look I was given when I finally had to go tell them they were disrupting the performance.
Then a man screamed throughout the entire concert, which featured mainly Bach compositions arranged for solo mandolin, a rather quiet instrument. The facility management made no attempt to remove him, which it had every right to do.
Also, the ushers had bright flashlights and stood at the top of the aisles to open doors for patrons leaving the hall. The problem was that they opened the door long before the person exiting got to it, flooding the hall with light.
Here are a few rules of theater etiquette, which should be printed in the program:
>> If you can’t be on time, stay at home. It’s disrespectful to the performer as well as the other patrons. If it’s not important enough to be on time, then you’re just there because you have nothing better to do. (Note to facility: Seat latecomers during the applause. If they’re late, they can wait a few more minutes.)
>> Do not leave before the event is over. It’s incredibly rude and shows great disrespect for the performers if you don’t care about acknowledging them at the end of the performance. Traffic is a fact of life, and if you don’t want to get caught in it, stay home.
>> Light and noise-emitting devices are totally unacceptable. The world can wait for two hours. No calls, no texting, no social networking.
>> No talking inside or outside the theater. The person you are talking to probably wishes you’d shut up, too. We paid to see who’s on stage, not you.
>> Be aware of the performance’s style. Do not scream out and whoop at a classical concert like you would at Mötley Crüe. (Note to venue: People can be ejected or refused admittance for being drunk or rude.)
>> Take care of any personal needs before the show (i.e. bathroom issues, thirst, unwrapping candy/cough drops). Nothing is more annoying than being onstage while someone in the audience tries to quietly unwrap a mint.
>> If you have to leave for the restroom, do so during the applause. It keeps you from crawling across other people’s laps and blocking their view of the stage.
Trust me, you can hold it for two more minutes, and if you can’t, wear a pair of those June Allyson bladder pants.
In short, treat a MacArthur Fellow with the respect he has earned. Treat your fellow audience members with the respect they deserve. They paid just as much for their tickets as you did for yours.
(Note to venue: Serve alcohol after the show, gel the usher’s flashlights, get a free-standing sign that reads ‘Quiet please, performance in progress’ and stick it in the lobby, and seat latecomers at an appropriate time.)
I apologized to Thile for the audience’s behavior, and even he seemed disappointed after his performance. I’ll think twice about driving all the way from Bristol to see a show at the Jefferson Center again.
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