Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 310.  Friday, 21 May 1993.
From:           Balz Engler <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 20 May 1993 12:43:30 +0200
Subject:        Re: Talking at Plays
Instead of complaining about people talking at plays, we should remember how
short the history of being *silent* at plays, and how restricted its scope
is. Silence is characteristic of the literary (not the popular) theatre,
and it is associated with bourgeois audiences, who, as with concerts since
the 18th century, came to perceive performances of "works of art" as a
kind of religious service, with its clearly defined spaces for audience
response (applause not between single movements, but only at the end of
a piece; in the theatre applause before the interval, and at the end, but
rarely elsewhere.
There is, of course, another question still: Do different periods have
different kinds of audience behaviour, and to what extent is this determined
by the experience of other media? Not much work has been done on this, as
far as I know, but I should be interested in learning more about it.
Balz Engler
University of Basel, Switzerland

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