Monday, October 13, 2008

Thoughts on the Theatre and a Rant on Respect

Way back in July, James gave me tickets for The Color Purple, a musical based on Alice Walker's novel of the same name. Evidently, since Stephen Spielburg made the movie, there's been talk of a musical. Who knew? About the musical, it was so, so good. The music was incredible, and truly captured the emotion behind the story. There were three chattering gossips who acted as living, breathing segues between scenes. The characters were bigger than life, so talented and believable.

I've wondered all summer how some of the racier scenes from the movie would be handled. Suffice it to say that there was enough clarity in the sexual relationship between Master and Celie without it being unbearable. The relationship between Harpo and Sophia was fun and refreshing. In fact, Sophia's bigger-than-life character was probably my favorite of all. (Here's a link to the song "Hell No" from the scene where Celie told Harpo to beat Sophia in order to make her mind -- and before you attack me for being a proponent for domestic violence, read the book.)

My only complaint about this area, and really about the musical as a whole, was the fact that more seemed to be made of the relationship between Celie and Shug Avery. What I perceived as a deeply intimate friendship between two people who lacked love and affection was turned into something that seemed more sexual. Maybe I missed an important part of the story, but that's a big jump. All in all, though, The Color Purple as a musical is incredible and is a must-see.

(Pulls out soapbox...)

What I do have to complain about is the clear absence of respect among fellow audience members. My family growing up was not a theatre-going bunch (unless you're talking about the movie theatre), so I didn't necessarily learn anything about how to manage myself in venues of the performing arts from them. However, my fifth grade music teacher hauled a whole bunch of us down to the Tulsa Opera House to see The Mikado, and there she taught us the basics of theatre etiquette.

Things like:

  • don't wear jeans to a production (and certainly not the shorts, tank tops, and fanny packs we saw yesterday).
  • arrive in time to take your seat before the curtain rises (instead of coming in in droves long after the performance starts and standing in the darkened aisle hoping to read your ticketed seat assignment, meanwhile blocking the view of other theatregoers).
  • unless you find yourself in an emergency sort of situation, stay in your seat until intermission (and don't even think about heading in and out for Diet Cokes and T-Shirts because we're not at the circus, people).
  • if you do find yourself in a state of emergency and have to leave the theatre, do not come back in until intermission (because way back then, the ushers would not allow your return. Now, though, I guess anything goes).
  • with the exception of the occasional whispered voice, there should be no talking in the theatre (because it's disruptive to and disrespectful of the performers on stage as well as the other attendees).
  • take your seats when the lights dim and rise after intermission, as this is a clue that the performance is about to get underway once again (instead of assuming there must be something wrong with the building's electrical system and taking your sweet time, only to come in late once again).
  • turn off your cell phone (actually, she didn't say that because there weren't cell phones way back then, but really, does it even need to be said? Again, not the circus -- though I even turn my phone off at the circus. Am I the only one?).

I know many art programs have been reduced or eliminated from schools altogether, but still, many of these issues are related to basic consideration and general respect for your fellow man. As a homeschooling mom (and really, just as a mom who cares), I feel fortunate that my kids don't have to wait until fifth grade or later to get these lessons, but as a person living in today's society, I feel sad that they are among the few who will be taught.



photo credit: talkingbroadway.com

7 comments:

  • Randi

    Unbelievable. Those things just shouldn't even need to be said. It's a sad commentary on society in general ... nothing gets the respect it deserves any more. Oh oh, I feel myself climbing up on your soapbox alongside you ... better stop now! :)

  • Elizabeth

    Good for you for teaching your kids the proper attitude and behaviours at the theatre. Although I have to say, if you catch a matinee in NYC, you could probably see just about anything being worn. So sad!

  • Christy

    Amen Sister!

  • Amy

    What are your thoughts on people that come and sit at the table next to you in an empty restaurant or 2 year olds that throw their chop-sticks at you? :)

  • Amanda

    Amy, you crack me up! I think you know my position on those matters... :)

  • Tabitha Blue

    Sounds like a great musical... and I totally agree. People should use respect at a Theatre. Thanks for sharing that, and for teaching your children the proper way, maybe if we all do a little more of that, the dis-repectful trend will work it's way out.

  • Happy Mommy

    The Color Purple was my favorite movie ever of all time! I need to see if its coming our way!

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