Photo: Jane Barlow/PA
Popular concerts will be told to avoid phrases such as “best party in town” and “dancing in the aisles” after increasing reports of rude and abusive behavior from audiences.
Ambassador Theater Group (ATG), the UK’s largest theater operator, is working with producers to remove any advertising campaigns that may encourage bad behaviour, the Stage reported.
On Tuesday, Colin Marr, director of the Edinburgh Playhouse, told The Stage that audience behavior was the worst he had seen in his five years at the helm. “One of the main things we’re trying to do is messaging and working closely with producers,” he said. “We’re talking to them about marketing. So when we do market shows, don’t have phrases like ‘best party in town’ or ‘dancing in the aisles’ – the show has something much stronger to sell.”
He said some marketing sends the message that it’s acceptable to sing along, “but really, if you’re in the back row you don’t want that”.
Marr said producers were “very positive”, adding that some make their own announcements before shows to remind viewers to behave.
A spokesperson for ATG confirmed that the company was working with producers on marketing. “We’re taking a multi-disciplinary approach to tackling challenging audience behaviour, covering every point of the customer journey, including how we market shows. We want everyone to fully enjoy the show experience and we work closely with producers to create appropriate marketing material,” they said.
Edinburgh Playhouse issued a statement last week about poor audience behaviour, after a recent performance of Jersey Boys was halted due to pressure to fight, resulting in the police being called. Marr said he was “ashamed and angry at the unacceptable behavior from the audience” his team suffered.
He added: “They were verbally and physically assaulted by a small number of onlookers as they tried to do their job. Two weeks ago, one of my staff had a puncture. This week one of them was crushed and spat on.
“This is becoming very regular – not just in our theater but in venues across the UK. It is a very small minority of people who come to our theater and choose to sing, dance and talk throughout the show in a way that disturbs others. They don’t know, or care, how much this spoils the experience of their fellow audience members.
“When one of my staff politely asks them to stop they become verbally and, in some cases, physically abusive. This is not acceptable.”
The London Theater Association and UK Theater have put forward the idea of a “respect campaign” in collaboration with other sectors, including those in retail, to tackle bad and abusive behaviour.