Attending a show? You will, of course, be on time
. You will not talk
(or poke your fellow theatergoers). You will not use your cell phone
. You will not bring your own food
. You will not fight
. You will not riot
Audiences weren't always so sedate. Roman audiences were notoriously drunk
. Shakespeare's groundlings
were famously rambunctious. Victorian theater were hotbeds of prostitution
. Indeed, it isn't until P.T. Barnam opened a lecture hall in his American Museum
that "museum" standards of behavior became applied to audiences for live entertainment, and it never completely stuck (see Bill Landis and Michelle Clifford's wonderful Sleazoid Express
for fascinating descriptions of the lively audiences found at Times Square's grindhouse theaters). But, for the most part, theater and moviegoing is now a civil, dignified undertaking. How did this happen?
Well, it all started one day in 1849.
posted by Astro Zombie
on Feb 19, 2006 -