Since the turn of the new millennium the term ‘theatre etiquette’ has come into common use. From Imelda Staunton banning food, to Benedict Cumberbatch’s stage-door pleas to stop filming his performances, to the UK’s Theatre Charter and West End Producer’s ‘Theatre Prefects’ badge : efforts to censure and control unruly spectators abound. But has theatre spectatorship really reached ‘a new low’? And what are audiences themselves beginning to do about it?
- Theatre etiquette
- Relaxed performance
- Discourse analysis
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Those familiar with Baz Kershaw’s article ‘Oh for Unruly Audiences!’ (2001) may notice that this opening sentence pays deliberate homage to Kershaw’s introduction, which begins: ‘Applause , apparently, is not what it used to be’, and goes on to address the perceived pacification of spectatorial response.
This analysis comes from the introduction to Reframing Immersive Theatre by James Frieze (2016). As Chapter 2 explains, Frieze’s introduction and the other chapters in his edited collection critique the common binaries of active/passive, contemporary/traditional, whilst placing the claims of innovation made by immersive theatremakers in historical context.
If Nexis is to be believed, journalistic interest in theatre etiquette as a defined concept began with an 1989 article in The Independent titled ‘A Firm Guide to Theatre Etiquette’, reporting the publication of a new set of guidelines by the Association of Business Sponsorship of the Arts written to advise businessmen (and yes, they usually were men) on how not to behave badly when taking clients out to the theatre.
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Sedgman, K. (2018). Introduction. In: The Reasonable Audience. Palgrave Pivot, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-99166-5_1
Publisher Name: Palgrave Pivot, Cham
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