Chapter the Seventh: The Revolution will not be artificially fertilized

dearesth bloggerth

Here we go a-continuing with the Rhubarb chronicles

The other night I was sitting in Tallulah’s Cabaret, perusing my week 2 playbill waiting for the show to begin when I ended up in an interesting conversation with a Mr. X (we’ll describe him as queer cultural guru at large). He was telling me about the Rhubarb festivals of yore that took place at Buddies in Bad Times original home on George St and how at that time there were often hecklers in the audience, an element that he found both hilarious and yet horrifying…on behalf of the performers. Now myself being a performer of more comedic no fourth wall stuff I am used to hecklers of a sort. Not the drunken attention seeking asshole ones that frequent comedy clubs and I feel probably go to comedy clubs with the aim of spending an evening heckling but just people wanting to talk to “my character” while I am mid-turn (clown term for sketch). This can be fun and I do encourage it at some points, the points where I built it into my routine but sometimes you have to work very hard to work around the boisterous shouting, not ignoring it but not engaging in it for fear of the tangent it may take you on. And if you are in the middle of an actual play with emotions and a fourth wall, hecklers are the stuff of nightmares, along with forgetting your lines or forgetting to put your pants on.

However I thought wouldn’t it be interesting to encourage a new trend of heckler conviviality amongst the audience, more along the lines of a sort of unplanned, un-endorsed by the performers audience participation, an element of control returning to the audience giving them the feeling that they have permission to hate the piece and tell you how they feel or to just leave without feeling the slightest bit rude even if they are seated somewhere very far from anything resembling an exit. Maybe this would bring people back to the theatre if they felt that they were in control and not going to be held captive into watching something that they would have to fake a heart attack to get out of. I think this would reinsert, a much-needed, element of danger back into a night at the theatre. The sort of stuff that gave the Globe theatre its notoriety (or so I assume. I have not really researched audience behavior at the globe but I imagine it to have been wild). Keep everyone on their toes to a point of ballerina blisters.

We all need a bullshit meter (for the pedantic and the pedestrian alike) sometimes and some of us need it all the time.

Maybe this will put a stop to the jumping on only tried and true, fully sturdy, critic endorsed, starfucker promoted, bandwagons with catchy tunes?!

My all time favourite hecklers

2 thoughts on “Chapter the Seventh: The Revolution will not be artificially fertilized

  1. I recall being jealous once of a fellow theatre goer who did leave during a performance. He was seated close to the exit, I was not. Being in the arts community, I felt guilty for wanting to leave! Was there not something in this performance I could appreciate and learn from? Eventually, yes.

    I recall another time where I saw a reviewer leave the theatre and he later wrote about doing so. I felt on some level that it was unprofessional and a little rude for a reviewer to leave, even though I think we all can sympathize with what even 20mintutes of not-so-great theatre can feel like.

    I think for the person or family who does not attend theatrical events frequently, you may be on to something. It would give a person the opportunity to come in, check a show out, not feel bad about leaving, go elsewhere to have a good time, and maybe come back when there was something more their taste playing.

    At the same time though, how frustrating to be a patron connecting with a performance, only to have the family in front of you start gathering their belongings to leave and uttering their disappointments in front of you while you’re trying to watch the show.

    • I am not at all endorsing leaving a show in the rudest way possible (If you must leave then do so in the most discreet way possible). I am just saying that we have to allow for people to leave whether we agree with their doing so or not. Just as I have desperately wanted to walk out of a show and felt I should have been able to, I must allow for that “family in front of me” to leave a show that I am enjoying but perhaps is not their taste.

      I do believe in giving shows a chance but theatre is subjective and shouldn’t feel like a mandatory experience (even if you bought a ticket without coercion) so people should leave if all they are feeling is nothing but hatred for the art that is unfolding in front of them. Perhaps this will bring them back if they feel they have all the power.

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