Bad Usher Behavior

audience There has been an ongoing discussion on blogs and in the papers about bad audience behavior.

But what if the ushers are also behaving badly? Perhaps ushers are encouraging audiences to behave badly.

At one particular show in Chicago, which I will not name, there were two ushers that were texting during the show. Two! Now, think about the message that this sends out to the audience.

“Wow, if the ushers here are texting, I guess it must be okay.”

The ushers should be the people setting the example at a theater and if they’re texting, the audience will probably follow suit. On top of that, if an usher is busy texting someone, they’ll probably be too busy to curb bad behavior in the theater. (At the show I just finished up ushering on, I eventually had to stand up and walk up and down the aisle because so many people were texting.)

You’d like to think that ushers, of all people would be behaving well; representing a theater well. Depending on how quiet a theater is, you can hear someone texting. What sort of message does the audience take away about the theater. “Wow, the show was great, but the ushers were texting”?

At this same play, an usher was sitting out in the lobby, during the show, checking to see that people didn’t wander in. As people left the show, she said, “Did it offend you?”

My problem with that is that it’s almost as though she was saying, “How dare you leave the show if it offended you” or “You should only be leaving if it offended you.” That sort of behavior makes me not want to go to back to that theater.

So, I have a new theory about bad audience behavior: What if the audiences are behaving badly because the ushers are behaving just as badly? What if this is just a monkey see, monkey do situation?

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4 thoughts on “Bad Usher Behavior

  1. I’m curious as to when and where the ushers were texting. Was it pre-show? If so, how did they have time? Was it during the show? If so: first of all, that’s just bizarre, and second, where were they texting that you could see them if you were in the audience? And asking the audience if it offended them is also strange. Were these Saints? Or people who had never ushered before?

  2. Zev, it was during the show and it was at the Merle Reskin Theatre, where the ushers are students at The Theatre School at DePaul University. (Which is why I was hesitant to say what theater it was at and what show it was at.) One of the ushers actually took a seat among the rest of the audience. Another usher was sitting in the back of the orchestra on the folding chairs they have set aside for the ushers. I don’t know if the students that were ushering had ever ushered before, but I do have a bit of a problem since the Theatre School strives for professionalism and because an audience at college theater might be younger and might have never been to the theater before.

  3. Well, that’s certainly not appropriate behavior, but I would wonder if it’s something you’d see among ushers with a little more experience. I don’t know if audiences are getting those kinds of signals from their ushers at professional theatres. I could be wrong–has anyone seen that?

  4. […] Fragments (I Can Have Oodles of Charm When I Want to), Monica rants about a not-so-charming issue: bad usher […]

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