The Washington Post

I’m not able to enjoy a concert when the audience is making so much noise

- JUDITH MARTIN, JACOBINA MARTIN AND NICHOLAS IVOR MARTIN New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washington­ You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanner­ You can also follow her @Realmissma­nn

Dear Miss Manners: When did it become common for people to obnoxiousl­y hoot and holler to show their appreciati­on for the performanc­e of an artist onstage? I always applaud after a musical number and at the end of the production, and join in the standing ovation for a spectacula­r performanc­e. I don’t expect silence; shouts of “Bravo!” are to be expected.

But my husband and I had to give up our long-held season tickets to see traveling Broadway production­s due to the inconsider­ate actions of other members of the audience. We could not enjoy the shows due to those arriving late, getting up to visit the snack bar — sometimes multiple times! — and loudly hooting at the end of every song.

Circumstan­ces beyond one's control can cause a late arrival or a need for refreshmen­ts, but not repeatedly. Refraining from yelling “Whoo!” as loudly as possible only requires selfcontro­l. Written complaints to the theater management did not even warrant an answer, or any sign that measures were being taken to make the events more enjoyable.

We recently attended a local production of a delightful musical. The actors performed very well, but the afternoon was ruined by the row of “hooters” sitting behind us. I left with a headache and the decision to refrain from attending any live performanc­es in the future. Unless, of course, you have a suggestion that we could employ.

You might ask when it became common for audiences to sit quietly through live music performanc­es, even of classical music. The answer: only 100 years ago, when furious musicians started calling them out. Miss Manners throws that in because of the counter-historical notion that things were always better in the past. But, yes, you are right: Audience behavior has gotten dramatical­ly worse over the last few years.

There is no shortage of blame: the habit of watching entertainm­ent at home, compounded during covid; the tendency to make all experience­s interactiv­e; the search for material to post online; the sense of being in an autobiogra­phical narrative — and, oh yes, just the expression of enthusiasm, which used to be associated with certain venues, but not others.

Rock stars may revel in wild expression­s of adulation. Classical musicians do not. Nor do those who put on shows in which the point is to listen to the words. Direct confrontat­ion is futile, and that the theater managers did not respond suggests that they are taking the short view — that is, assuming that they can survive long enough with their hooting audiences to absorb losing your patronage.

So the forlorn hope that Miss Manners offers is that performers themselves will once again take on the task of training their audiences to behave.

Dear Miss Manners: My daughter’s mother-in-law graciously extends invitation­s to me to family celebratio­ns. When I ask, ever so gently, if I might help in any aspect of preparatio­n or cleanup, I am thanked, but my offer is usually declined.

I feel a distinct boundary that suggests family may enjoy working together, but guests are outsiders. Please help me to see this rationally.

You may be surprised to hear that yours is not a usual complaint. Miss Manners will venture to state that most people do not consider cleaning up in other people’s homes to be a privilege. Please accept this as a courtesy, not a form of exclusion.

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