Courtney and I went to the So You Think You Can Dance tour last night. It’s always a great experience to see phenomenal dance performances. Courtney and I enjoyed reliving some of our favorite moments from the past season, and I especially enjoyed spending the evening with Courtney…enjoying her enjoyment.
But there were a few disruptions.
Let me first admit I’m a bit of a theatre and production fan. As a performer (in my younger days) and choreographer for high school musicals, as well as attending many musicals, ballets, and plays, I’ve experienced productions from a variety of perspectives. And there’s theatre etiquette.
Personally, I think basic theatre etiquette should be printed in every program. And as I sat through last night’s performance, I composed a few points I’d include.
- Please do not exit and enter during a performance. Wait until a scene change – or in this case, leave your seat only in between dance performances. If you arrive late, wait to be seated. (There were many times during the first half of the performance that my own enjoyment of a routine was interrupted by someone looking for a seat, leaving for a snack, etc.)
- Please do not talk during the performance. (There was a mom with her two daughters behind me. During every break between dances – and bleeding into dance numbers – they were talking about what they remembered about the season, what their favorite costumes were, and the many details of their own dance classes and performances. I learned a lot, but I don’t think I needed to know any of it.)
- Support the performers. (To be honest, this wasn’t a problem at last night’s performance. Everyone seemed to clap and scream at appropriate times…but I’ve attended several performances when the audience is eerily silent or obnoxiously loud. Performances are conversations between the audience and the performers.)
I have to admit this event wasn’t typical theatre. It was more of a concert atmosphere, so I suppose the rules are a bit different, but I still repeatedly thought how insensitive some people were being. Of course, not everyone was being (in my opinion) disrespectful. Our row was great. We were on the end, and everyone in the middle only left and returned during the intermission.
And may I reiterate…I really enjoyed the evening! While others annoyed me a bit, I was determined not to let them excessively interrupt my enjoyment. But I thought about it often enough that I began drafting this blog post and considered posting it on the So You Think You Can Dance Facebook wall.
Until this morning.
I was in church, and I thought about the unwritten rules. Stand. Sit. Bow your head. Sing. Listen. Fill out an attendance card. Take communion as the tray passes. Sure, we communicate some of these things on the screen or even briefly talk about them, but there’s a lot that is assumed. How do I respond when someone wears something out of the ordinary? What happens when someone speaks during a time of silence or a time usually set aside for only one person to be speaking? What if someone begins singing in the middle of the sermon or moves to the front of the church early in the service instead of when it’s expected?
When someone doesn’t fit into our expectations, we can get annoyed, or at least uncomfortable. How should we respond? With irritation, silence, confrontation? Do we assume people know the unwritten rules, traditions, and guidelines?
I was irritated with people at So You Think You Can Dance who didn’t abide by the unwritten rules of performances. But perhaps they weren’t breaking the rules in defiance. Perhaps they simply weren’t aware of the unwritten rules!
…which means, perhaps I shouldn’t have been irritated or offended.
In what situations do you get irritated when people don’t fit into your expectations? When they seem to be breaking the rules? How do you respond?
Next time, let the disruptions you experience – in the grocery store, traffic, airport, spa, church, restaurant, etc. – prompt you to consider your expectations. Ask yourself “why” you have the expectations and are they critical. If yes, are you willing to walk alongside the person not meeting those expectations and teach them the reasons behind the guidelines? If, on the other hand, you realize your expectations aren’t critical, you might learn something about yourself that might spill into other life situations if you let it.
I hope you’ll allow the questions spurred by disruptions to strip away the unnecessary and expose the essential.
I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible. 1 Corinthians 7:35