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AN AGGIE LINE: USU cheerleaders perform during the Aggies' final exhibition game. It's time to cheer for basketball. / Photo by Brianna Mortensen

Today's word on journalism

Friday, November 10, 2006

Q&A with Ed Bradley:

Q: What single issue should be covered more at CBS News?
A: Foreign news.

Q: Have you ever been assigned a story you objected to? How did you deal with it?
A: When I first started in New York at WCBS radio, the assignment editor automatically assigned any story that had a minority in it to me. I objected to being typecast and told him if I didn't get a variety of stories -- as other reporters did -- then I would take it up with the news director.

Q: If you were not in news, what would you be doing?
A: If I had the talent, I'd play bass guitar and sing in a kicking band.

--Ed Bradley, reporter, "60 Minutes," died yesterday of leukemia at age 65 (2006)

Etiquette for live performances: Don't be a jerk in audience or on stage

By Ryan Pence

October 26, 2006 | The following rhetoric is meant to be helpful and not hurtful to those who like to take things, including themselves, too seriously.

One might ask why write on the etiquette for live performances; the answer to this is an easy one. About a week ago I was invited to go to a concert/documentary. I thought to myself, "Sounds like fun," so I went. I got to the auditorium my usual 10 to 15 minutes early to get a good seat and prepare myself for the performance and found myself to be watching the crew/performers still setting up.

I thought, "This should have been done before I or any other audience member arrives."

So to make a long story short, a program set to start at 8 p.m. didn't start till 8:35. Not acceptable by any means to any self-respecting person. To make matters worse, the crew insults the audience by saying, "Sorry it took so long; we were experiencing technical difficulties" when the only technical difficulty was their incompetence to arrive a few hours earlier and set up their equipment. Instead we get fed a line and had to wait 35 minutes for something that ought to have been done an hour prior.

Sometimes I feel the need to drive nails through the thick skulls of various people -- but I don't because I'm civilized and I live in a civilized world. Besides, once the madness starts it'll spread and keep spreading until everyone has a nail sticking out the top of the head. And then someone somewhere in the future will wonder what was it all for?

After much long deliberating and debate the answer will become clear, the live performers have had it with the disrespect that the audiences display at performances, and that audience members have had it with ill-prepared performers for whom they are paying money and spending their valuable time.

Both the audience and the performers have jobs and roles, but they also have a responsibility to the other. There comes a time when these rules must be written down so that they are understood by both sides. So that both the audience can enjoy the performance and so the performers can deliver their best.

Etiquette for the audience members (this would be most of us)

Since we (the audience) are coming to see you (the performers), there are a few rules or guides that you might like to follow, not to mention most people -- notably those in your immediate vicinity -- would appreciate too. Some of the following will not be applicable to all types of live performances, but still try to keep them in mind.

The first series of rules seems obvious, but there are people who ignore them. Absolutely no photography, especially with the use of a flash. This distracts the performers, and the clicking noises and sounds of charging flashes annoy neighboring fellows. Do not record the performance in any way on any medium; if you haven't figured it out by now, most material is copyrighted. In performances that includes but is not limited to scripts, songs, music, dancing, actors blocking, sets, lighting, etc. Not only is it silly to watch someone try to record a performance, but to watch such recordings is an almost unbearable feat that should include the warning, "may cause nausea, headaches and anxiety due to shaky, fast moving and overly used zoomed images mixed with horridly poor audio and some big guy's head consuming half the allotted screen space."

Shut off you cell phones. This is not a suggestion, this is a request. If there is something more annoying, let it be known. Having a cell phone out in a theatre or auditorium is a good way to show disrespect. Not only are cell phone perfectly visible to the performers on stage, but they are also a distraction to other audience members who are trying to enjoy the performance.

OK, I understand the need to be connected to the world, friends, family, etc. but come on, you are at a live performance. Chances are good that you paid to be there, so pay attention. Besides if it doesn't stop voluntarily, it will be stopped legally, just for your information it is against the law in New York City theatres to have your cell phone turned on, if you're caught using your cell phone you will be removed from the theatre and you will be fined. Similar laws are popping up across the country to address the cell phone issue. Some of you may ask, "What if I'm a doctor and I'm on call?" The answer is a simple one; in the Broadway theatres you leave your cell phone and your seat number with the house manager, if a call comes through they'll come and get you.

Do not leave in the middle of a performance. Again, it is disrespectful and this just bothers everyone for really obvious reasons. Do not show up to a performance late, it is a generally good idea to show up 10 to 15 minutes before the start of the show that way the show can start on time. Do not talk to your neighbors; I'm not even going to tell you why you can figure this one out on your own. Do not boo at the performers, this is childish and rude, and we are not living in Europe.

Etiquette for performers

Some of the same rules apply for you mainly because if you don't follow rules such as turning your cell phone off or showing up to a performance late, it will make you look foolish, cause embarrassment and in general make you look amateurish and very unprofessional.

First and foremost, if you do not have a stage manager, house manager, travel manager or just a manager, get one quickly. A manager will make a performers life a whole lot easier and better. Having someone in charge who knows what needs to be done, and how best to get it done will save a lot of time and grief in the end.

Show up early so you can prepare yourself for the performance, get into costume, character, warm up the voice, tune your instruments, resolve possible problems, relax and rest. Be sure that everything is setup at least thirty minutes prior to show time, that includes the set, audio/video equipment, lighting, instruments, props and clearing the stage of miscellaneous stuff which isn't going to be in use. Which means if you have to show up earlier show up earlier, an audience doesn't pay money to watch the crew setup.

The following is just a side note: if projectiles are going to be shot into the audience, i.e. water, blood, confetti etc., make sure at least the front two rows are aware of this. Also if real fire is to be used on stage, even if it is only a candle, make sure you clear it with a fire marshal. Remember you have a living audience that probable value their lives, and fires can spread especially on wooden stages pretty fast. Lastly, if you are using smoke or haze machines be sure to get the smoke alarms turned off, because those machines can set them off.

Well there you go, an expedited list of do's and don'ts for performers and audience members. Remember to respect others and the performances, whatever they may be, will be more enjoyable with more professionalism and less annoyances.

MS
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