Judging from the responses I received to my Jan. 17 column about encountering some rude audience members, I’m certainly not the only one who has noticed this growing trend.
When people pay high prices to see a good show, then they expect to enjoy that show without hearing loud conversations or being annoyed by the bright lights from people texting nearby.
Theater and venue managers need to realize if they don’t get some control over this situation, they are going to lose regular-paying audience members.
Here are some of the comments I received. So as not to embarrass the individuals who wrote me or make them targets of abuse from rude audience members who don’t see themselves as rude, I’m not going to use their names. But this is what they had to say, very loud and clear:
FROM A SHOW PROMOTER USING THE IMPERIAL THEATRE: “As I think you know, I spend the evening walking the house, checking the show from every vantage. The band (at a recent show) was barely audible in the balcony, and it wasn’t the sound system. It was the louts in the second balcony who were making it painful for everyone else who was there trying to hear the band.”
FROM AN EDGEFIELD, S.C., RESIDENT: “I mostly stay home because I am prone to confront the ignorant. I am not inclined to confront the ignorant who are drinking. I would land in jail. So, I forfeit the chance to hear some good entertainment in Augusta. I’m too old to fight, so I stay in Edgefield.”
FROM A BELL AUDITORIUM PATRON: “We were at Spamalot (musical) last night and I thought I might end up attacking the couple seated right behind me. We have season tickets and always sit in these seats, but the seats behind us must not have been sold as season because there is always someone different in them.
“Yes, Spamalot is a very funny show, we saw it in New York City a few years back and I’ve always been a Monty Python fan, but the man, who obviously knew Spamalot well, would say the lines of the character out loud before the actor on stage actually said them.
“The first time, it was kind of funny but as the night wore on, it became dreadfully annoying. At the same time, the female half of this duo had an annoying, high-pitched laugh that she used nonstop. At the intermission, we saw drinks under their seats and suspected they might have been drinking.”
FROM AN OPERA FAN IN BELL AUDITORIUM: “Ever since we came to the Augusta area in 1976, I have been appalled at the rudeness of Augusta audiences, which has only got worse. We came here from Munich, Germany, where we used to attend the opera.
“When we had been here a few months, I saw an opera performance advertised in the paper. It was at the Bell. We bought tickets and, on the night of the performance, as we were used to doing in Munich, we dressed formally. Walking from the car to the Bell, we thought we were in the wrong place because people were heading to the theater dressed in street clothes and even jeans.
“In the theater, the opera started and the door closest to us kept opening and closing with a bang as the latecomers entered and found their way to their seats, blocking peoples’ views of the stage, as an entire row would have to stand up to let them through. This was becoming very annoying.
“Then another nuisance started. People were in the theater with huge cups of soda with ice cubes and bags of popcorn. As they ate and drank, the ice cubes rattled and the popcorn crunched. This was a fine accompaniment to the singers on the stage. I was going berserk!! At the intermission, I went out in the lobby and complained to some little old ladies manning the refreshment stand, who were probably just volunteers. They looked at me as if I was nuts and said it was all policy as usual. Nothing has changed over the years.”
FROM AN EVANS RESIDENT: “As far as the cellphones are concerned, I tap them on the shoulder (if they are just in front of me) and tell them to put it away; that it’s annoying!! I know, I’ll probably get thumped one day!! Years ago I wouldn’t have said a word but the older I get the more intolerant I get of people who have no consideration for other people. Their attitude is that ‘I will do what I want to do when I want to do it.’ ”
FROM A NORTH AUGUSTA RESIDENT: “I just had to comment on your article of last week. You were right on the spot with the comments made. I no longer go to movies because of the conduct and lack of common courtesy these younger people display.
“If you came for the movie then shut up and watch! But if you need to talk and text in order to live, go outside and get a picnic table! Oh well, as I saw posted on Facebook, ‘Common sense and deodorant are two things not used by them that need it most!’ ”
FROM AN AUGUSTA MUSIC FAN: “It’s taken me a couple of weeks, but thank you and thank you again for your Imperial Theatre column. Hope it got to the staff and the Powers That Be that there is a time and place for everything. I have been to performances there and many have been great in reference to those that came to listen. But then there are those who sure seem to love to discuss songs and world affairs as performers work.”
NOW FOR SOME OTHER COUNTRY AND BLUEGRASS GRAMMY AWARDS: You might know that Carrie Underwood won the Grammy Award for Best Country Solo Performance with her single Blown Away and that the Zac Brown Band won the Grammy for Best Country Album with Uncaged.
But you might not be aware of these other country, bluegrass and Americana Grammy presentations:
• Best Country Duo/Group Performance: Pontoon by Little Big Town, who is headed our way for a May 8 show at Bell Auditorium
• Best Country Song: Blown Away, composed by Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins
• Best Americana Album: Slipstream by Bonnie Raitt
• Best Bluegrass Album: Nobody Knows You by Steep Canyon Rangers, who have performed in Augusta many times
• Best Spoken Word Album: Society’s Child by Janis Ian, who will be coming to the Jabez S. Hardin Performing Arts Center in Evans on April 30.