Teen Talk 2: Audience Behavior

By: Cindy Kim

On attending theater performances: teenagers in Hong Kong are infamous audience members. I am not unaware of this. There are many reasons why you see a lack of anyone under the age of 20 at the theatre and financial destitution is not the only one.

The cost of watching theatre shows is prohibitively expensive for students in Hong Kong. Three hundred dollars is hardly a welcoming figure, not to mention the hassle it is to even deal with HK Ticketing or URBTIX. Obviously a majority of students wouldn’t have elected to study drama if they weren’t interested in it but these hurdles are often a little too much for idle curiosity or a night’s worth of entertainment. When you compare the process of booking theatre tickets in Hong Kong to ease of booking cinema tickets, there's a lot to be desired.

This usually means that the first ever show a lot of kids attend is through the school system, which was the case for the majority of my class. We don’t get to choose shows that interest us; the school chooses for us. In my case, the school chose the Shakespeare's Globe production of The Taming of the Shrew last fall. It was a good, gentle easy induction to the performing arts.

The behavior of the entire class is almost invariably judged by the lowest common denominator. It doesn’t matter how well behaved everyone is; at the end of the day, it only takes one person with a mobile phone to have everyone writing apology letters. We also tend to come in classes of 30 at a time, which I imagine does not help endear ourselves to anyone. The excitement of your first theatre show, no leg space, combined with the presence of friends, does not lend itself well to a sober and appreciative atmosphere. We do have a degree of self-awareness, but that doesn’t extend to everyone.

We do self-police amongst ourselves so strangers don’t have to tell us to shut up, and not experience the lingering embarrassment that comes with being automatically associated with them. So if you see a teenager in a school group fiddling with their phone or surreptitiously eating candy, give their no-doubt responsible friends a moment to sort that out. Kids aren't all bad audience members, I promise...

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