If you’ve read my blog before (which I’m sure you haven’t), you know that I love theatre. It is my all-consuming passion in life and the reason why I am probably going to die alone and broke. Anyway…
Whenever I’m not performing, I like to go and watch shows. You can read as many text books as you want and go to college for the rest of your life, but I really believe that the best way to learn about writing and performing is to watch how other people do it. Anyway, that’s the excuse I use when my sensible self tells me that I can’t really afford the tickets.
Because most of these large scale theatre productions often cost a shit load of money, I often end up going to watch student productions. It’s kind of like buying things from Mr. Price instead of Edgars. You get the same thing, just for much less money.
I was recently fortunate enough to watch a brilliant student production, “Bent”, presented by the University of Pretoria. I enjoyed the show very much, except for one thing: the audience sucked.
I heard about the play via Facebook when one of the people on my friends list shared the event. Naturally, I wasn’t invited. So I decided to just invite myself. There were just so many reasons to go and watch. I mean, who doesn’t want to watch Martin Sherman’s breakthrough Broadway play about how the Nazi’s tortured the gays? Besides that, the age restriction indicated that there would be sex and nudity. Gay sex, violence, naked men, tragedy, and a DRAG QUEEN? You can’t beat that. I contacted one of my friends and convinced her that we simply had to go.
When I walked into the Lier Theatre I was booming with excitement. The Lier is where I performed as a student for the first time, so it holds a special place in my heart. The seats were already filling up fast (the show was sold out), so we ended up going to the back row. As we sat down I immediately knew I was going to get mad. The people who were sitting next to us were talking loudly, as if they were in a bloody restaurant. After the cell phone announcement was made I thought that they would calm down, but I was so wrong. The play opens with a rather provocative sex scene which takes place with the drag queen singing in the background. And that queen has the voice of an angel. While she was crooning on top of a ladder and the two boys were going at it, I was mesmerized (for various reasons). However, I was also constantly distracted by the fools sitting next to me. They kept talking and making comments. I tried to give them my “you are irritating me” look, but they didn’t even look in my direction. The worst part was the girl sitting next to me. She was on her cell phone the Whole. Fucking. Time. She hardly even paid attention to what was going on in the play. There were a few times when I considered trying to move or asking her to shove the phone up her ass, but I didn’t to cause an even bigger commotion, so I just kept quiet.
Despite all the ruckus, the actors still gave masterful performances and when the first act ended I was really keen to see what was going to happen next. The second act took place in a separate room that was (very impressively) made up to look like a concentration camp. The play continued and it was every bit as brilliant as the first act (Except for the fact that the drag queen doesn’t appear in the second act. That part made me a bit sad). Most of the audience had been drawn in by the story at this point, except for little miss socialite, who was STILL busy with her cell phone. She tried to hide it, but you can’t exactly miss a bright cell phone light in a dark room.
The play reached a climatic point in which one of the guards fires a shot. Now, the people who were actually watching could see that the shot was about to be fired, so we anticipated the sound, but because this girl was looking at her phone and not at the performers, she nearly shat herself and screamed at the top of her lungs. Immediately the tension of the show was broken, because everyone was looking at her instead of what was going on. A few people even started laughing. To be honest, I also wanted to laugh, because I was glad that she embarrassed herself (and her scream was really funny), but at the same time I wanted to get up, grab her hair, and throw her out her out the door. Because I was so angry. It’s already so difficult for theatre productions to get funding and audiences that when someone so disrespectful shows up and ruins the experience for everyone. You could’ve used that money to buy airtime honey, because clearly you have no idea of what happened in the play, so you wasted your money. And you made me angry. REALLY ANGRY.
The theatre is a sacred place. It’s a place where people work very hard for very little money, and we don’t appreciate you fucking up our shows. So stop it. Now.