Theatres could do more to help front-of-house staff – your views, July 25
I suppose these theatres could reduce their sales of alcohol to the inebriated and their sales of gargantuan food items in noisy packets that distract and annoy the rest of us – or is that too obvious…
Selling wine by the pint glass and pushing people to buy more alcohol in advance for the interval and munchie boxes doesn’t help with audience behaviour.
It is sad that front-of-house staff have to protect themselves. It’s a sad world where people can be aggressive and rude to those trying to do their job. You would have thought the customer had come for an enjoyable night out, not to be argumentative and obnoxious.
Thank you front-of-house staff for doing your best to make everyone’s visit enjoyable, and always greeting your customers with a smile. I, for one, appreciate what you do.
There is no excuse for aggressive behaviour from audience members. I have been both an audience member and an usher. Some theatregoers’ attitudes leave a great deal to be desired, but the overwhelming majority are friendly, polite and understanding.
I worked front of house in the West End and our FOH manager insisted that when someone was being aggressive or negative towards us we stand and be polite, but to hold the button on our security radios to open the line so everyone could hear. Then she could find us and intervene without us having to make the customer aware they were being sought out.
It’s amazing how rude and abusive the general public are to people in service roles. It is quite heartbreaking when staff are probably working there between performance jobs and aching to be the one on the stage not the one being yelled at because the seats are wrong.
Behaviour at the theatre has become worse. Every time I go, people speak loudly, text, check their phones, eat loudly, take photos and so on. They carry on despite being asked to stop. I feel sorry for ushers, they never know how an audience member will react to them.
Last year I saw a woman ejected from Mamma Mia! after she was told off several times for taking photos and loudly accusing the performers of miming. At Fiddler on the Roof, I lost count of the number of people texting and scrolling. It is unbelievable.
I witnessed an incident at Les Misérables that made me feel sorry for the front-of-house staff.
In the row behind were a group who did nothing but go in and out to get drinks. They were clearly intoxicated and chattered throughout the show. After politely asking them to be quiet, in the interval I sought out the staff who asked them to be quiet. They were a little aggressive and afterwards as we were all leaving they began swearing and threatening me. The staff had to come to my assistance and asked me to wait behind until they had left for my safety. I’m a 65-year-old woman – hardly a threat.
If ushers wore body cameras it would also help expose unacceptable behaviour from the tiny minority of front-of-house staff that also abuse theatregoers.
Mark Penfold Simpson
Good grief, give the front-of-house staff a taser as well as a body camera – anyone who behaves badly in the theatre should be zapped and that includes anyone who eats, slurps, talks or gets their phone out.
The Mikado is reductive
To Richard Duployen, who wrote a letter last week. It’s an insult to Japanese theatremakers and designers to suggest The Mikado is the only chance to showcase Japanese talent and design.
I’m sure it’s very enjoyable for white audiences to see these plays, but, as an Asian actor, playing a racist and stereotypical caricature called Yum-Yum is soul destroying. The more time, energy and money we spend on producing these abominations, the less there is to explore the wealth of talent in East Asia.
I don’t care if it is a classic, if we want to create an industry free of prejudice and exotification, after decades of racism, then we must consider why these plays became classics in the first place.
Camilla Anvar Makhmudi
Both The Mikado and Madame Butterfly are simplifications of Japanese life and culture, which is why they’re popular in the West.
If they become the only reference point of Japanese culture, it encourages Japan to be seen as a playground for Westerners and the people as exotic rarities. Even if it’s performed in Japan, self-orientalism is still not good for the cultural mind set, especially for women.
Maybe in a world where there’s a wealth of support for diverse Japanese arts these shows could run alongside them. But support and funding for productions such as The Mikado comes at a price for others. It also suggests that the only opportunity for Japanese theatre is still in outdated stereotypes. We can afford to progress.
Quotes of the week
“People are livid over the trailer for Cats! Listen, even if the whole thing was just Dame Judi Dench coughing up a hairball, it would still be better than watching America trying to hack out the slimy hairball in the Oval Office.” Bette Midler (Twitter)
“A decade ago, we would sell out entire runs before they opened, but now, based on word of mouth and the habit of booking later, we might sell 15% of a show overnight as reviews are read and people WhatsApp their excitement or otherwise to their friends – word of mouth can be wildfire or a cloying, smothering mudslide.” Opera Holland Park general director Michael Volpe (Sunday Times)
“I’m well aware that the clock is ticking for me. As a woman – and I’ve been an actress since I was 14 – your casting shifts. I’ve been a girl, I’ve been a teenager, I’ve been a young woman, I’ve been a mum. Now, I’m veering very happily into character actress, which is kind of what I’ve always wanted to do because I never felt like I was a typical ingénue type.” Jenna Russell (Evening Standard)
“Theatre has always been all-consuming, As a producer, you’ve got to go bed thinking about it, you’ve got to dream about it and you have to wake up thinking about it. Nothing has changed over the years.” Michael Harrison (Chronicle Live)
“I end the song looking away from the audience, but then the applause went on a bit longer than usual, so I tilted my head and saw people standing up and started to cry. It’s one of the moments I’m going to remember for the rest of my life – when does that ever happen?” Jac Yarrow on the mid-show standing ovation he received on the opening night of Joseph (londontheatre.co.uk)
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