Reported by A Chick and A Dude Productions, Austin, Texas:
About Last Night…(or, Why You Shouldn’t F@#$ With a Live Performance)
Approximately 8:30 PM, Thursday, March 8, 2012. A day which will live in a chick & a dude infamy.
We had just started scene 2 of our production of Glengarry Glen Ross. Actors Robert Deike (Moss) and Aaron Black (Aaronow) had taken their places onstage as Tom Green (Levene) and Robert L. Berry (Williamson) exited. The rest of u s were in the lobby as usual, listening along, waiting for our scenes. We got word from Robert & Tom that there was a guy being a bit distracting in the audience. We had heard some inappropriate laughter during scene 1, but just chalked it up to being a strange audience member.
Then the lobby doors opened, and a woman came out apologetically to inform director Melissa Livingston that a man in the audience was clearly intoxicated, talking very loudly, repeating actors lines as they were spoken, and so forth.
Melissa went around back to figure out a way to handle the situation, as I (Shanon Weaver) paced around the lobby wondering how this would work out. What would I do if this guy continued to be a nuisance during the scene between Chris Loveless and myself, which was coming up soon? Should I pull a Hugh Jackmann and stop the show cold? Would the evening be over? I couldn’t come up with a good solution.
Turns out, I didn’t need to.
Aaron Black, it seemed, had also had just about enough of this particular audience member.
As I stood there in lobby wondering what to do myself, I heard from onstage, “What!?” followed by a few footsteps. “What the f@#$, man?” followed. Aaron had stopped the show to call this guy out. The night had become a real live Mamet play.
The lobby doors opened as the patron’s wife and daughter made a walk of shame out of the theatre.
The patron said something like, “I’d be happy to leave this f&$%#ng theatre.” Aaron replied “Good, get the f#$% out.” At this point, the audience chimed in. “Yeah, get the f#$% out!” and so forth.
At this point, the lobby doors were open and I stood there wondering what would happen next.
As the drunken patron wandered and stumbled toward the door, he foolishly started an altercation with another audience member—a rather muscle-bound man who had also had enough of these antics. The man stood up, clearly ready to beat the tar out of this drunken fool. To avoid fisticuffs, I entered the theatre and took the man by the shoulders and dragged him out of the theatre, telling him firmly “You’re gonna leave, or you’re gonna go to jail.” Chris Loveless followed me to calm down the other gentleman.
As I pushed him out, I wondered what would happen next. Had our night been ruined? Did we owe 37 people a refund?
My answer came in the form of thunderous applause and a standing ovation from a galvanized audience.
Robert Deike calmed the crowd down, and the actors started the scene over. The first line of scene 2, “Pollacks and deadbeats” got another round of applause.
We continued the show, without a hitch.
Let this be a lesson to anyone thinking of disrespecting actors on stage. We are not mere puppets, we are not “artsy-fartsy” pansies. You WILL be dealt with. Possibly by Aaron Black, our new personal hero.
The punch line is, folks…company member Dan Price was filming the show last night, and the entire incident is on film, which just might be posted to YouTube by the time you’re done reading this. [Click to view a murky video of the incident at YouTube.]
A Chick & A Dude Productions would like to extend a very heartfelt THANK YOU and apologies to our audience last night. Especially to Kenneth Wayne Bradley, who was sitting behind the gentleman in question and practiced great restraint in not handling the situation on his own. We’ve always thought we have the best audiences in town, and last night proved it. Melissa, before the second act, apologized again for the disruption and offered free tickets to another night for anyone who had been too disturbed by the incident. As of 10:44 AM Friday, not a single person had taken us up on the offer.
Also a big thanks to our cast and crew. This situation could have ended at least 40 different other ways, all of them poorly. The fates aligned for us last night, giving us the best possible outcome to the situation.
In closing, just a big thanks to everyone in Hyde Park Theatre last night.
Live theatre. Anything can (and last night, DID) happen.
A chick & a dude.