|Ancient Audiences were inter-active |
years ago I was thrown out of a performance at the English National Opera of an
opera by John Buller based on Euripides’ Bacchae.
An aesthete sitting in front of us had complained to the bouncers because my
escort, no classicist, whispered occasional questions to me, such as ‘Why is
Teiresias wearing coconuts?’ The expulsion was poignant because, unbeknownst to
the complainant and the bouncer, I had been a consultant on the show. I had
only got to sit amongst the most refined opera aficionados, in expensive seats,
as a reward for writing the programme essay.
|Euripides had to cope with more than tweets|
explained to our accuser that in Euripides’ theatre, the democratic audience (who
had not paid ludicrous sums for the
right to attend) felt entitled to comment noisily and get bad performers and
dramas driven from the stage: really great productions received praise because
they had managed, unusually, to spellbind
the audience into silence. Unfortunately my line of argument didn’t work and in
lieu of the second half I ended up explaining the coconuts in the pub.
two decades to an almost empty theatre at a production of the disastrous
musical Stephen Ward, imminently
closing, about the Profumo affair. I bought myself a ticket because my children’s
great-grandfather (on their father’s side, I hasten to reassure you) was Percy
Murray, the owner of the sleazy nightclub at which the main players (Keeler, Ward
etc) met one another. Much of Act I is set in this legendary knocking shop, and
my children’s great-grand-dad even gets to sing! What an honour! To have a role
written for my in-laws by Andrew Lloyd Webber himself!
|Advert for my grandpa-in-law's infamous nightclub|
at least five seats from anyone else, dazed by the awfulness of the show, I made my reactions available to my tiny Twitter following. The
next day I received in response a stream of outraged tweets from one of the
actors, who found it astonishing that I should think it okay to sabotage the
creation of Art by tweeting at a live performance. His grounds were that it was
bad manners, could disturb other spectators (possibly, but nobody was sitting near
me) and was disrespectful to the actors.
|Murray's club, rather cleaned up, in Lloyd Webber's Show|
exactly? I have learned to ignore all the students who live tweet my lectures, regardless
of whether their views are positive or critical. That is their right. Now that
Higher Education is a commercial transaction, they are paying vast fees, as we
all have to pay small fortunes to attend London musicals. Call me a boorish
groundling if you will, but shouldn’t the performers of both lectures and
musicals, selling their products, have to earn
their customers’ respect? I would be
interested to hear your opinion.
|My sister-in-law's signed copy of Keeler memoir: 'It was wonderful working for your Grandfather--it was a great show'|
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