Dear Cranky Couple Who Yelled at Me After the Symphony
Dear Cranky Husband & Wife,
Hi! I’m Melinda, the gal you two yelled at.
In case y’all yell at lots of gals, here’s a refresher:
You two were seated in front of me at a Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra concert in Bass Performance Hall. At the end of said concert, Cranky Husband turned around and yelled at me for cheering too loudly. Cranky Wife chimed in as well.
Now early on in the evening, I had a feeling you were annoyed with me. I wasn’t 100% sure at first, as many people in the audience cheered with abandon that evening. However, the turn of the head and slight side-eye over Cranky Husband’s shoulder after only my cheers is what confirmed things.
At intermission you two could have politely said something. Really, at any point in the evening you could have politely said something.
But you didn’t.
Instead you let your annoyance build into rage and then screamed at me after the performance was over.
Do you feel better after yelling at a complete stranger after a symphony concert?
I sure hope so. Otherwise, what’s the point?
No really, what was your point?
Since you waited until after the performance was over, it didn’t help your enjoyment of the concert.
And I assure you, you’ve not stopped me from attending - and cheering - at more performances.
So what is it you were hoping to accomplish?
Personally, my biggest concern is that this wasn’t an isolated event.
Why is that my biggest concern?
You two seemed a little too comfortable yelling at a fellow arts patron, which means you’re most likely the stereotypical, elitist jerk of a patron that is a current bane to the classical music industry.
And you need to STOP.
Classical music has enough challenges as it is.
Overcoming an image is stuffy and elitist. (Which you perpetuated that evening, btw.) The constant beat-down that is fundraising. Loss of funding to arts programs. Loss of arts coverage in the media and especially newspapers. Expanding audience reach and diversity.
The list really goes on and on...AND, organizations are dealing with these challenges all while also putting in the work of producing performances that are solid enough to attract great performers so that they can continue to produce excellent, professional programs that attract and entertain the audience.
People like you do more harm than good. Sure you bought tickets - and judging from the seats you were in, you may be a subscriber - but at what price to the organization when you yell at other patrons?
You, Cranky Husband, aren’t a good supporter of the symphony or the arts.
Many potential new patrons are scared to come to performances because they don’t know what will happen.
They’ve heard the horror stories of others ranging from things as mild as glares and sneers to more overt hostility like being openly yelled at and harassed.
At the concert I attended a couple of weeks before this one, the people seated next to me were first-timers. Not just to the FWSO and Bass Hall, this was their very first symphony concert ever. Before the concert began, they admitted to me that they were nervous. I asked why, and they said they were afraid of doing the wrong thing and being yelled at. I reassured them that the would be fine and were welcome.
After the show, I asked them how they enjoyed it and not only did they love it (of course) but they said that my cheers made them feel more comfortable to express themselves too.
This is something I’ve often heard. A dear friend of mine who is also vocally appreciative and I have been told that we HAVE to sit together at opera performances because our open expression helps everyone else feel comfortable expressing themselves too. It helps the show!
Classical music and opera is all about big emotions so it’s to be expected that the audience should have big reactions too.
Except unfortunately, the stuffy reputation makes the audience feel as though they’re not allowed to openly react. Audience members who are more openly vocal show them that it’s OK to feel and express these emotions being created from what’s happening on the stage.
You see, the performance experience is a two-way street between performers and audience.
Performers are there to entertain; the audience is there to receive and respond.
Performers WANT audience reactions. We talk about our audiences backstage.
“This is a great audience. They’re laughing so much.”
“This is a hard audience. I’m pretty sure they’re still asleep.”
Audience energy affects the performance for good and bad.
If you’re in a comedy that you KNOW is funny, and the timing is right, and it’s all working, but the audience doesn’t feel they have permission to react so they don’t laugh? Oooooh that is a long, hard slog to the finish line. It’s painful for all involved, and nobody has fun.
On the other hand, when the audience feels free to react, it is SO SATISFYING for them to release their emotions as much as it is for us to hear them laugh during comedic moments.
Or hear the sniffles across the room during sad moments, and see some tears on the front couple of rows dimly lit by our light from the stage.
Or the gasps at the big plot twist or when something unexpected happens.
(Ask me about my favorite Tango performance sometime. We opened with a “death drop.” Nobody saw it coming, and the entire room simultaneously gasped. It was the BEST, and gave us even more energy for the rest of the dance!)
Even when I’ve not been on stage, these moments of honest audience reaction are incredible. At one concert that featured a solo with FWSO’s principal flute Jake Fridkis, after he finished the solo, just as his final note was dissipating in the air, a few rows away from me I heard a woman whisper “Wow.”
These are the moments that make all the hard work that goes into performing worth it.
Because seriously, performers work unbelievably hard to entertain you.
Hours upon hours of practice and class. Literally years spent in practice rooms and rehearsal halls. #IcantIhaverehearsal #IcantIhavetopractice
Missing holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions because they’re entertaining y’all for your holidays, birthdays, and special occasions.
There is also more literal blood, sweat, and tears than most people realize. Bloodied fingers of strings players. Bloody toes of dancers (as well as lost toenails.) Repetitive stress injuries. Breaks. Strains. Performing injured. (We’re not supposed to, but sometimes we still do it. #theshowmustgoon.) Performing while emotionally broken from a death or other traumatic personal event.
Quite frankly, the work that it takes and the sacrifices made are really enough for their own blog post.
And yes, this is their (and my) choice as a performer.
It’s also why I cheer at performing arts productions like the performers are all rock stars. Because they are. I personally know how much work they put in because I’ve been there, and I’m going to reciprocate their work with my applause and cheering.
Side note: I’m talking genuine, honest, emotional reactions from being engaged with the performance on stage. This does not include audience members carrying on conversations, and other rudeness. A formal performance setting may warrant a gentle conversation about protocol, but never yelling.
And not for nothing, Cranky Husband, but you’re not only the fear of new patrons but also of the performers. We all fear that petulant patron who glares at newbies who start to clap between movements, or who cheer boisterously instead of giving the polite golf clap. We know you’re running off new people and, again, you need to STOP.
For the record, polite clapping is what you do when something sucks. Not when it's good, and especially not when it's great.
Also, clapping between movements isn’t the worst thing in the world either. And if you need a completely silent experience, you need to stay home.
Now do I think you should have stayed home? Of course not! I want you to go out and have a good time and take in fantastic performances.
Just don’t yell at anyone else when you do.
Related side note: if you have a hearing issue and sensitive ears, you’ll be better served choosing a seat that doesn’t have anyone behind it. If you do have someone cheering loudly behind you, be polite. Tell them you have sensitive ears, and ask nicely if they would be mindful of that. You can also always invest in some great ear plugs. Just don’t yell at people.
When you two yelled at me, I merely smiled and walked away. I knew it was the kinder option rather than anything I’d say in that moment.
Mind you, I wasn’t that bothered by getting yelled at. Shocked for a moment, but overall I thought it was funny. I’ve performed in and seen so many shows at Bass Hall that it’s like a second home. Really, for me this whole thing is pure blog fodder (as seen here) and a fabulously entertaining story to tell over cocktails - especially to fellow performers.
In other words, performing arts are my life and my business, and there is NO amount of screaming from some random audience couple that’s going scare me off.
But know that if I ever see you yelling at another audience member for showing boisterous and joyous appreciation, I will not be as polite.