News Performing Arts

How to enjoy a night at the theatre without negatively affecting other people’s experiences

DARKENED rooms are welcoming, conducive places to experience audiovisual art. Be it at the black box or the cinema, viewers only need provide obedience in exchange for information, or a trip to another universe. For this piece, we want to specifically address the theatre.

But local audiences sometimes seem to get way too comfortable, choosing to respond to other urges that appear throughout the duration of a performance. Let’s address that. This is a friendly reminder to everyone who goes to watch plays.

No gadgets, please

Don’t take out your cellphones during a performance to check your Whatsapp or god forbid, respond to a call! It’s usually bright and glaring in a darkened setting, and distracts severely from the performance. And if your devices are not already on silent, know that the production has every right to kick you out. Dewan Filharmonik Petronas is particularly strict on this rule, and thank God for laser pointers.

Be aware of yourself!

If you have restless leg syndrome, straighten up and sit with a solid posture. If you absolutely cannot stand to be in the audience, then leave and go get an ice cream. We’ve sat on many vibrating chairs before and it’s like experiencing art through an earthquake. And parents, control your children or we will get them removed from the hall, because its not fun trying to deal with a brat who taps his feet during a pivotal monologue.

Don’t speak. Period.

Just don’t, unless the director is literally begging you. Because nobody wants to hear a conversation about dinner while something as precise as Beckett is taking place three feet away. And do you really need to make it clear how much you hate a performance during its runtime? How about instead of sighing and making comments during scene changes, go up to the director during intermission and cook up an excuse on why you have to leave? Then write a review on the show and send it to us or to performing arts review website Critics Republic; it’s that easy!

Flash photography? Really?

We didn’t think it was possible, but we’ve sat through a couple of shows in which audience members blatantly snap photos with a digital camera. Some even use flash during minimally-lit scenes. Why? Perhaps someone can go pay a visit to Istana Budaya one of these nights and find out for us. To be honest, we’re sure it’s fine to take photos if you’re discreet about it. But if there’s a tiny, blinking red light in the darkness every time you snap a photo, then how about no?

8:30 means 8:30

Malaysians nationwide need to end this “Malaysian time” thing and just figure out punctuality. How often have you had to wait for more than 15 minutes before the houselights even dim? Nowadays, it’s uncommon of performances to actually start sharp on time — a problem which exists in productions small or large. Do you really want every head in the audience to swivel towards you as you noisily find your seat? Next time, be there at least 10-minutes early to get more information on the production or even mingle!

This is a public service announcement. Because we love the stage, and everybody deserves equal opportunity to experience the magic of the theatre.


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