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DIRT is only mat
ter in the wrong
place," says the
a nuisance is a
person or an act
in the wrong place.
It is proper and legiti
mate for a man to beat
time to music with the tip of his boot
in a bar-room, but it becomes a nui
sance when he beats time on the back
of your seat while you are trying to
enjoy the play.
When a man pays for his seat in the
theatre he buys the right to enjoy the
play. The manager carries out his part
of the agreement when he furnishes a comfortable chair, and the actor
is doing the best he can to carry out his part. In depriving your
neighbor of the rights he has paid for, you are not only ill-bred but
dishonest. You may claim that you did n't think, if he rebuke you, but
in ninety-nine out of a hundred cases this is untrue, and in no case is it
an excuse. You would not knowingly pick a man's pocket perhaps,
but by your boorish acts you not only make his life a burden but you
help to create an atmosphere of discord that carries across the foot
lights and is reflected in the impaired work of the actor. Thus you
steal from your neighbor in a double sense!
If you be a female boor, you may have a weakness for letting those
about you know that you are familiar with the airs of the opera, but if
you hum these while the prima donna is singing you make yourself a
nuisance of the worst type. Audibly to anticipate the development of
the play is inexcusable, since it deprives your neighbor of his right to
enjoy suspense and surprise,
the two essential qualities of
the drama. Especially in psy
chological plays, which one re
quires his undivided faculties
to appreciate, is the talker a
nuisance. It is generally a
woman who talks for the bene
fit of her neighbors and is
roundly, if silently, cursed for
Oh, why do people so often
curse to themselves!
The Woman In the Case
When women were com
pelled to remove their hats a
big stride was made in the di
rection of decency, but women
are still the chief offenders in
the matter of bad breeding in
the theatre. They seem to
think that the money they pay
for a ticket purchases a license.
The rustling of candy box
paper in the hands of irrespon
sible women has proven such a
nuisance that people should be
forbidden to bring this article
into the theatre. One such
thoughtless or selfish person
can exasperate a whole zone of
Then there is the nervous
male bore who rattles his pro
gram folding and unfolding it
incessantly. The man who
drums with his feet or cane,
either at a musical play or dur
ing the orchestra performance
at a drama should be sum
marily put out.
In some theatres ushers even,
standing back of the seats, talk
in an undertone, which greatly
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word, one on which much may depend, comes a loud, boorish cough,
blotting the whole thing out, so to speak — destroying the scene —
marring the whole play. This is no exaggeration. Such a nuisance is
the cough that I watch for it, I feel it coming on — that hack! hack!
hack! — just before it begins. I pause and let him get over it.
A Universal Pest
It is a universal paradox that vanity, which usually prompts people to
be attractive, causes them to come late to the play just to make a stir,
a show, disorganizing a row of persons, annoying the whole house,
causing a let-down in the work of the players, and on the whole making
themselves most offensive.
It is a curious thing that deadheads are often the worst offenders
in the theatre. They seem to forget that they are objects of managerial
generosity which fact carries with it a certain obligation of decorum.
The deadhead, in other words,
seems to be guided by the same
principle that influences the
great mass of people who most
frequent our city parks and
promenades and who display
the most selfish forms of van
dalism — scattering broadcast
newspapers and unsightly re
mains of luncheons and other
debris. New York is said to be
the greatest sufferer in this re
spect, because it harbors the
greatest number of aliens.
The theatre boor is peculiar
to no country. Some Continen
tal writers credit England with
the choicest variety — all the
way from the gentleman in the
stalls who talks to the semi
barbarian in the pit who boos.
But England has an aristocracy
from which to select. King
Edward made valiant, but vain,
efforts to check the evil in
London. But the right to be a
nuisance was a prerogative
which the British aristocracy
would not be denied, even by
royal injunction. We have a
report of an American actor of
English birth over there step
ping to the footlights and re
buking, in very plain English,
a party of titled persons in the
stalls who, by their chatter,
were making intolerable nui
sances of themselves.
Even though we have no
aristocracy to help us out, we
run the Old Country a close
second for the honors of pro
ducing the most pronounced
quality of theatre nuisances.
annoys pay patrons and is
most disconcerting to those
on the stage, for every little
noise in the auditorium car
ries back beyond the foot
lights. For this the manage
ment is to blame!
Next to that arch nuisance, the un
thinking man who applauds out of
place, is the cougher. He not only an
noys the audience, but the players.
Some people seem to take pride in the
noise they can make with a cough or
a sneeze. Why can't they muffle thfir
cough in their handkerchiefs, instead
of barking it out? Many a time, just
as I am about to speak an explanatory
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