The age of social media has many pros and cons. The advertisements directly aimed at audience members are so direct and immersive more and more people are going to see musicals and plays. This has been great for the industry giving the arts a boost and there are more tours than ever bringing shows to different places round the country at affordable prices. A lot of the performers are finding their way to become more famous and successful through the use of social media.
Yet somehow someone pouring their heart and sole into their work and the world having more and more access to their lives has developed a scene of entitlement to some of the audiences going to see shows today. Are audiences buying the ticket to see the actor or the show? And what are people expecting from the actors except the performance that they have paid for?
Since I joined the west end fandom in 2014, I never really thought stage door was a big deal. Of course, I would love to meet an actor after travelling so far to see the show. But I felt really embarrassed and annoying for just wanting to catch a glimpse of the actor. I said hi, got a picture and went a way feeling high as a kite and tbh I really can’t remember the interaction. It was a bit of a thrill and I know boundaries, but I think for some people this can become addictive and they are entitled to a meet and greet.
Think about how tired you can be after a day in the office. Well combine that with a break up and sense of trauma. Actors have to portray this and experience it once or twice a day 6 days a week. It is exhausting and they have to maintain the performance just to keep their role. It has to be just the same for everyone who comes. But if they spend time at stage door talking to fans, that is their choice and they do not deserve to be abused for not coming out.
The west end is not designed for stage door interactions. In the US there are barriers, security guards and ques. The UK it is a free for all and the actors can sometime be put in danger by over eager fans demanding attention and signatures. Imagine if this happened to you when you left work. It would send my anxiety through the roof.
A new recent development involving the Les Mis concert special with some of the biggest west end stars including Michael Ball, Alfie Boe and John Owen-Jones. These stars are signed to perform but they have other commitments as well which makes it tough for them to be at every performance and maintain the level of performance for such vocally demanding roles. They make choices based for the show whether they are too ill to perform or just can’t give the performance. The understudies’ step in but more and more audiences are complaining when the principals do not perform.
For example, Alfie Boe has been covered by John Owen-Jones in Les Mis who is incredible. An audience member shouted out “Where is Alfie” which led to a twitter storm. This isn’t the only instance. The more famous an actor get the more entitlement people place on them but this is reflected in the audience. IF you want a ticket to see a person go see their individual concert. Do not expect them to be at a show. You pay for the show not the person.
The entitled audience has so many ways to show its ugly head with the age of social media. The anonymity gives people to power to abuse the stars. But can you say you love a star If you treat them that way. More needs to be done by the west end to support actors. The first thing would be audiences changing their attitudes and getting a grip of their attitudes. If you do go to stage door, be patient and polite. Once you’ve had your interaction move on and let them be as they need time to recover and deserve to feel safe and loved!
Thank you very much Carrie!