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Friday, June 2, 2023

Entertainment staff discuss audience etiquette

After the pandemic shut theaters and performance venues across the globe, societies have spent months unable to practice their audience etiquette skills. Now, despite the considerable time that has passed since the world reopened, venues across the country are filled with stories of rude spectators whose behavior has been overlooked.

The Athens community is fortunate to consist of entertainment venues where audiences can actually experience the art, minimizing distractions to the audience. One of these venues is the Athena Cinema at 20 S. Court St.

Spencer Caputo, a fifth-year interior architecture student who has been working at Athena Cinema for a year and a half, praises his workplace as an environment that welcomes an active audience.

“People who come here really respect cinema,” he said. “People are better at being quiet and away from their phones … but there are definitely people who come … and have a conversation (while watching a movie).”

Similar to The Athena, Donkey Coffee is a local preference for people who love art and want to experience it in a supportive and accepting environment. Olivia Tenoglia worked at the 17 W. Washington St. Cafe for about seven months and during live events.

“(The environment) is largely supportive,” she said. “People come here to support people and to exchange art in an informal way.”

When asked about the best and worst audience behaviors, Tenoglia thought of several different examples.

“The worst thing I see all the time is people not realizing it’s open mic night and it’s taking up space when people come to the show,” she said.

Tenoglia said the most common courtesy she sees is listening respectfully when the audience is paying attention rather than speaking or doing homework, and even walking up to talk to the artist after a performance.

Dave Deivi has been coordinating public stage events at Donkey Coffee for a year and a half and has a unique perspective on audience etiquette.

“I always start with every open stage by reminding the Donkey audience that the performers have always told us… this is the most dedicated and supportive audience this community has and I just remind them that it’s an honor to be thought of like that ,”He said. “If people come in after I’ve talked to the audience, sit down and just talk, kind of forgetful, I don’t think that’s an evil thing. It’s just that they’re not used to the vibe we’re trying to create.”

Deivi recalls occasional situations where he had to talk to audiences about disruptive behavior.

“Nobody gave me attitude, some of them might (agree), be quiet for 20 seconds and then talk,” he said. “Then, I go back to them … and then they usually either leave or they’re like, ‘Yeah, maybe I’ll give it a try.’ I’d rather have them leave in a huff than make someone on stage feel neglected or neglected .”

The two venues attract different types of audiences, but the other local main venue, the Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium, draws a third of the crowd. This audience is generally polite.

Peyton Irwin has been a conductor at the auditorium for over a year.

“We’ve had situations where … people drink a little too much and then something happens,” Owen said. “People are usually very respectful.”

Asked about the common etiquette of being welcomed and encouraged, Irving reiterated what other venue employees have said.

“Honestly, just thank us,” she said. “It’s always a good thing to be kind, smile and thank you.”

In general, audience behavior in Athens seems to lean towards the polite side, although no doubt there will always be occasional people who seem to be ignorant of the audience’s preferred etiquette. All three said it was perfectly possible to be a respected audience member as long as they stayed focused during the event and thanked the hosts.



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