Friday 17 November 2023

Essential Snobbery 101: Attend for the experience or stay at home

Acrobats from Africa

On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending the Kalabanté Productions: Afrique En Cirque performance at the Aviva Studios, Factory International venue bordering Manchester to the northwest, courtesy of tickets from George House Trust.

This troupe from Guinea in West Africa, brought to life the typical everyday life in West Africa even though they represented themselves more as ambassadors of Africa than from a specific region.

The performance was full of African percussion and the versatility of the kora a 21-stringed instrument common to West Africa, beyond which were dances and lots of acrobatics. Amongst the performers were two contortionists with freakish abilities that just astounded us with awe.

For me, it was a lovely entertaining night, the innate African in me could not sit still as the percussion beats resonated that you just had to move or rock in rhythm in your seat.

Arriving on African time

With everything African, certain African traits presented with a surprising coincidence of our row of 16 seats in a section being populated by people seemingly of African origin.

However, my pique was with certain on my row who arrived over 30 minutes after the performance started, meaning we had to get up for them to get through to their seats. The seat beside me was vacant for about an hour before the lady arrived and the performance had hardly ended before she was the first to literally push her way through to leave. She probably should have just stayed home.

I do have my concerns about concert etiquette though, I would attend a performance for the experience, in the moment. I might at times take notes, but I rarely do except when I am attending for the second time if the opportunity comes up.

The disruption of mobile phones

It has become the bane of live attendance to see many holding up their phones and recording the performance, obviously to relay to others that they were there, but I feel the quality of the experience is diminished by the distraction or concentration on your phone to ensure you get the somewhat essential elements of the performance.

The amateur recording of a performance would never meet the professional standards of a licensed recording of a performance with cameras at strategic locations and all the elements of zooming in on certain sections of the stage to highlight critical must-see actions.

Besides, in a dark theatre, the light or glare of the mobile phone recording events is both a distraction and irritation to other members of the audience. Some concerts literally look like candlelight vigils, all phones aglow and in the line of sight of those behind trying to catch what is going on.

Come for the experience

In my view, this should be banned, you either have come for a live performance or you want to watch it on television at home. If indeed you need to encourage others to see the show, your word of mouth with the experience should suffice, if snippets of the show are necessary, the production company would probably have a professionally curated trailer of their performance to highlight what to expect, it is unlikely you can do better than them.

It might serve a purpose for you and the best is to seek a photo opportunity with the performers after the show; that would be quite unique and special, than a bootlegged sneaky recording of a performance whilst being an irritation to others. Thank you.

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