Guide #76: Answers to Readers’ Cultural Dilemmas | Culture

This week we’re trying something a little different, a mailbag edition of the Guide where I try to answer your cultural questions, big and small. Thanks to everyone who submitted questions and sorry to everyone who didn’t get a response. On to the show…

Why has audience behavior in theaters deteriorated so much? And what policies or actions are needed to change it?sheila cross

You’re not the only one noticing a drop in public behavior, Sheila. And it doesn’t seem to be limited to theaters either. In December, Vice (hardly known for his quiet and reserved ways) published an article titled Why does the live music audience suck right now? – where they lamented, among other things, an increase in thrown objects, excessive use of the phone to influence social media and people shouting “spit in my mouth” at artists. And movie theaters have long been a battleground between people wanting to sit down and watch a movie versus people wanting to yell at Captain America for some unknown reason.

This would suggest that there are wider societal issues at play rather than something theater specific. But, of course, bad behavior is much more noticeable in theaters, where, unlike cinemas, audience interruptions can derail the performers themselves. And there is certainly enough disruption that the Evening Standard wrote a lengthy article about how London theater audiences have forgotten how to behavewith some really revealing examples.

So what’s going on? It seems a bit of a stretch to say the pandemic is to blame, but it’s hard not to single it out as a factor, with some members of the public perhaps a little too excited about attending events in live after two years of absence. Hopefully that will subside over time, but there are other potential factors at play that might not be: the ES coin indicates that alcohol is more readily available than ever at shows and, of course , the ubiquity of social media to encourage people to perform at shows.

I also wonder if the rise of immersive theater might play a role, with Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club (featuring an immersive pre-show element) and the work of Punchdrunk encouraging audiences to see themselves as part of the show. That doesn’t seem like a valid excuse though: bettors really should be able to distinguish between this form of theatrics and the more traditional form. Ultimately, this could be something theaters themselves can take it upon themselves to start fighting against. Confiscated phones, bouncers patrolling the aisles? Doesn’t sound like a pleasant evening, does it? So, for everyone’s sake, stop yelling, throwing things, and keep your bodily fluids to yourself.

Juliette Lewis and Christina Ricci in Yellowjackets. Photographer: Kailey Schwerman/AP

Do you think anyone watched anything on Lionsgate+ or Paramount+? I have Netflix, Apple, Prime, Disney (they are all shared) and Sky – how and why on earth should I also pay for another service?Suzanne Stockton

Well, Suzanne, I watch things on Lionsgate+ to start! There’s the big new series from Party Down, one of last year’s top shows in Station Eleven, Ramy, The Great…the list goes on. And Paramount+ has the Yellowstone Extended Universe, The Flatshare, and the new Yellowjackets series (above). But you raise a good point – as discussed in a newsletter since the start of the year, there really are way too many streaming services competing for our eyeballs right now, and something surely has to give.

One thing that I think we’re about to see a lot more of is streamers licensing their shows to rivals to cut their losses. It’s something former Disney CEO Bob Iger suggested to House of Mouse will start doing soon, and something HBO Max in the US is already doing with some of their lesser shows. At first glance, this seems like a pretty strange development – ​​after all, haven’t all these companies recently been trying to expand their libraries to entice people to subscribe to them? – but actually, there is some logic to it. Essentially, you can keep your top-rated shows on your service and syndicate less popular, older shows to other platforms. Starz (aka Lionsgate+) already does it here with Channel 4, which gets access to shows like The Great months after being on the streaming platform. So keep an eye out, Suzanne – and you might still be able to watch this latest series of Outlander one day!

Why are Are East Midlands audiences neglected? This Week BBC Radio 6 Music have announced that their festival will be in Manchester this year, and every year from now. Having been detained in Glasgow, Newcastle, Bristol, Liverpool, Belfast and Cardiff in the past, I was hoping for a East Midlands (or indeed any city in the Midlands) this year. Moreover, groups increasingly seem to circumvent the East Midlands on their UK tours. Please don’t ignore us. – Lesley Allman

That’s an interesting question, Lesley. And it’s one that, of course, isn’t limited to people in the East Midlands, or even other parts of this country – I have a friend in Valencia who always bemoans the fact that many British bands and Americans are skipping his city in favor of Madrid and Barcelona.

Lesley’s specific concern with bands bypassing the East Midlands on their UK tours probably has a lot to do with the general touring pressures at the moment. As mentioned in Dave Simpson’s excellent article on the live music crisis, small and medium-sized artists are struggling to make big money from live performances, as performance costs have increased by 40%. The understandable reaction then is to reduce touring in various ways, one of which could be the number of dates. East Midlands venues are in a tough spot in this respect, facing competition from Sheffield and Leeds to the north, Manchester to the north-west, Birmingham to the west and, of course, London to the south.

skip newsletter promotion

This speaks to a broader problem facing the East Midlands, says Jessica Murray, Guardian’s Midlands correspondent:

“I think there is a general feeling in the Midlands that the region has been overlooked in recent years as a lot of investment and cultural capital has headed north instead. When it comes to the whole north-south narrative, especially issues like ‘upgrading’, the Midlands is left somewhere in the middle.

“That is being rectified in the West Midlands,” adds Jess. “We had Coventry City of Culture and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. The East Midlands still feels a little behind, and there is certainly a need for greater cultural investment there. An East Midlands devolution deal is underway which would bring Derby and Nottingham together with an elected mayor, which some say would give it a bigger voice on the national stage.

For the sake of all of us who love a gig at Nottingham Rock City, hopefully!

If you would like to read the full version of this newsletter, please subscribe to receive The Guide in your mailbox every Friday

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top