why don’t audiences throw tomatoes any more?

Convener(s):  Greg Mclaren

Participants: Emma Bernard, Tassos Stevens, Katerina Pushkin, Emily Kendal,Lyn Gardner, and some other people, A man who could be called Manon?  A woman with yellow eyeliner and a brown tracksuit.  A lady with grey hair and gap between her teeth.  A lady who had studied at dartington, she had curly dark hair.  Then there was a Scotsman who turned up later; he had longish hair.  There was a tall woman who talked about comedy and wore glasses and next to her was someone who didn’t say anything and I can’t remember what she looked like, but I’m grateful for her presence.  Actually I should extend that thanks to all who attended

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

British cultural apathay.  We have become too polite.  Even if we leave we do it quietly in the dark.  If we don’t it is because of a desire to see the thing through to the end.  Or because we want to get our money’s worth.  However, if one does pay a lot it can be seen as value for money to make it abundantly clear you think it is shit.  (see opera)   If the work is free, are you more or less likely to walk out if you are not enjoying it? 

Should the theatre (work) recognise the audience?  Theatre that pretends the audience is not there does not help because the audience fell the performers are not performing for them questions about the relationship between the audience and the work - Finding your audience.. is it worthwhile to try to attract everyone?

There is no ownership of theatre.  Unlike opera. Opera audiences pay a lot of money and feel like they own it and so if it isn’t any good they boo it.  That tenor in La Scala being booed off stage.  Having done that how did the audience feel?

Teenagers in the theatre interacting with the performers (slam Dunk)  they don’t obey (don’t know) the normal rules of audience behaviour.  Children are the same, their reactions (under five) are amazing and then it seems to disappear.  Somwhere along the  line they are told to SIT QUIETLY IN THE DARK! 

is it up to the audience to change theatre?

do we bring the cinema viewer mentality to theatre and become passive in that way? 

Circus has people on the edge of their seats, but it works in a totally different way.

Keith Johnson’s research into feedback..  Audience don’t really want to do anything, but if there is enough space between the seats then they will leave if they want to.

Who do you give your tomato to?  Will the audience act responsibly or be self governing?  Well a lot of the time they do.  A company put buttons in seats and you pressed it if you didn’t like it.  after a certain number of presses an alarm went off.   It was anonymous

Comedy:  If the audience are not laughing you are failing (unless, you know,  you’re in the middle of a shaggy dog story or sumfink)  And “where has all the heckling gone?”

One method is to light the audience so that they know they can be seen.  Changes the relationship with/to them.

Is it risky to ask people to leave every now and then?  And that is not really like throwing veg, it’s more like a filter to get rid of any future disruptions.

what would young kids think of a 10 hour Ben Johnson marathon and would they know what to do if they didn’t like it?  Or would they try to behave like their adult role models and grin and bear it? 

Sell tomatoes – Give tomatoes  so they know its ok not to like it.

Work out some scale of what is good and what is bad.

The children thing is very important.  well yeah.  It turns out that children really are  the future so we should let them make up their own rules about theatre. 

The convener advocates a robust theatre and a strong willed audience. 


Molly:  gosh John you smell different, are you seeng someone else?

John:  Dearest you know that I could never lie to you and..

Audience member:  THIS IS SHIT!


Molly:  er… What?

A.M:  It’s not very good is it?

John:  Why don’t you shut up!  You’re ruining it for everyone.

Audience member 2:  Actually I don’t think this is very good either.

Molly:  Why?

AM2:  Nobody believes you.  It’s tacky.

Audience member 3:  Yeah!

Molly:  Well if you don’t like it why don’t you just leave?

AM:  Well, I want to know what happens in the end. 

AM3:  And I like the old bloke!

John:  he is funny isn’t he?  Well look, why don’t we just skip this scene and get on with it?  I mean all that happens here is my character convinces her that he’s still faithful.

Audience:  Yeah ok!

Molly whispers to the SM and the scene is changed…