Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Do You Hear the People Sing?

There have been recent articles that have served as wonderful inspiration for this blog entry. Here's one of them. 

CNN writer and  theater critic Kevin Williamson is sick of rude audiences who talk or text during play, he shares his experience with us HERE.

TicketWorld has been in the live entertainment industry, (the "live" part is very important here) for 18 years now. Over those 18 years, we have collected a wonderful amount of experiences with the audience we sell our tickets to. We've worked box-office (of course) but we've also worked front-of-house, back stage production, road management, and some of us even on stage, as performers.

Give and Take


Unlike the movies, or the silver-screen, the theater experience is very much a communal one, communal in the sense that, the interaction between audience, performer and performance is simultaneous. Instant. This creates such a wonderfully unique relationship between the various entities at work in the theater space. This relationship is co-dependent. Give and Take. Just like an audience member leaves a performance saying "that was a good show!", in some sort of parallel universe backstage, performers will often also remark on the "good audience" or "bad audience".  Pardon my "zen-ness", but the energy of a performance comes from both the performers AND the audience. (It sounds pretty obvious, but you'd be surprised)

This is the beauty of live performances. There is nothing on film that can replicate that brief yet resounding silence after a breathtaking performance, before the swell of applause. Unfortunately for film, there are no standing ovation opportunities after the credits roll. Leonardo de Caprio can not hear you take that gasp when you find out your current state of inception has been incepted for a second time (or at least you think it has been/is being/will be - that's a whole other conversation ;) ). However, fortunately for Leo, he can't see that rude glare on your face, as you check your phone for a message or a tweet.More on this later.

Les Misérables the Movie


When the recent Les Miserables movie came out earlier this year, I was lucky enough to score tickets to a special screening at the Rockwell cinema, for "theater people", as the ticket read. On the day of the screening, we all gathered in the Cinema lobby. The theater community in Manila is rather small, so it was a whole bunch of "hellos" and "how are yous" all over the place.We were also encouraged to come in costumes inspired by the film. So you can imagine the spectacle we must have created for the ordinary movie goer. Again - these were theatere people, needless to say, "shy" or "reserved" aren't really words that dodn't really register. Long story short, it was loud. We eventually, although still very excitedly, made our way to our seats. This was the movie event of the year! . . For us anyways.

The cinema audience included some very notable theater veterans, including some of those who had been a part of Repertory Philippines' production of Les Mis, back in 1993. Let's just say, if I was Hugh Jackman, I'd be nervous.

Before the movie proper began, we were given specific instructions to take all measures in making sure that we did NOT sing along. It sounds easy, but we're talking about an audience who probably knows the entire musical forwards and backwards. To ease that itch, the organizers had prepared a Karaoke track of One Day More for us to all sing. A microphone was passed around, people were standing up. It was wonderful!

After we got the singing out of our systems, the lights went out. And little did I know at the time, I was about to have the best movie-going experience of my life - and I'm not talking about the film.

The lights went out, and there was absolute silence. All prior conversations and shrieks of excitement had ceased.  I heard every single note that came out of those cinema speakers! It was amazing. Nobody was late for the movie, there were absolutely zero interruptions, no one was singing along, there was not a single cellphone glare to be seen or even vibration to be heard in Rockwell Cinema 6.Talk about a movie miracle.

It was only until after the movie that I realized why. That cinema was filled with "theater people", the (I want to say "few") people that truly understand the respect required in a COMMUNAL entertainment experience. This audience knows what its like to be interrupted by a crying child, or distracted by the light of an opening door when someone decides to leave early. And out of respect for the film, for each other and for themselves, for two hours and thirty-eight minutes, there was silence.

And yes. After film we did applaud. :)

With the emergence of recent technology, and growing popularity of the "individual" entertainment experience of earphones, iPods, youtube, etc, we, at TicketWorld, (not the Royal "we" ahah) have started to notice a shift in the treatment of live performances. Even watching concerts now a days, when you look around, it's not heads or hands in the way, but screen upon screen of people holding up their phones to take pictures or videos! (We've also seen a game played here and there. Awful.)

We've begun to encounter a whole other breed of show interruptions and etiquette issues. That being said, we've put together "TicketWorld's 10 Commandments of the Theater"

Do pardon the long winded introduction but here it is. :)

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