At the Play

The under-bred man at the play.

Entering late.

And leaving early.

Inattention uncivil.

On appreciation.

At a theatre the underbred man is often in evidence, not only in the low-priced seats, but also all over the house. He has been seen—and heard—in private boxes. A well-known music-hall celebrity administered a scathing reproof to one of these, who persisted in talking loudly while she was singing. Stopping short, she looked up at the box in which he sat, and cried: “One fool at a time, please,” after which he was as quiet as a mouse. It is a piece of bad manners to enter the theatre late, disturbing the audience and annoying the players or singers. It is equally rude to leave before the entertainment is ended, unless the interval be chosen when nothing is going on. At a concert this is particularly true, for there are devotees of music who hang upon every note and to whom it is a distinct loss to miss a single phrase of the compositions they have come to hear. Singers, actors, and actresses generally possess the sensitive, sympathetic, artistic temperament, and it is wounding to them to see members of the audience fidgeting, rustling about, chattering, laughing, and otherwise showing inattention when they are doing their best to entertain them. It is, therefore, uncivil to betray inattention. A little appreciation goes a long way with the members of the professions of music and the drama. An actor told me once that after having made a certain speech two or three times without any sign of amusement from the audience, on the fourth night of the play a single silvery note of musical mirth was heard from the stalls. It was but one note—say E flat on the treble clef—but the audience immediately joined in, perceiving the point of the speech as though it had been illuminated for them by this one little laugh. He declared that ever after that night his formerly unsuccessful “lines” elicited a roar of laughter. Probably this was partly due to the sense of encouragement he felt, inspiring him to due emphasis.

In taking ladies to a place of entertainment.

Instructions to the coachman.

In taking ladies to a place of entertainment a gentleman hands them into their carriage, a cab, or an omnibus, getting in last. Arrived at their destination the gentleman alights first, handing out the ladies, and giving any necessary orders to the coachman, or paying the cabman’s fare. By the way, it is always as well to give instructions to the coachman about where he is to be found, and at what hour he is to pick up his party, before entering the carriage, as policemen view with much disfavour any prolonged dialogue outside a place of entertainment where vehicles are setting down their occupants in quick succession. Should there be a footman, of course all these difficulties are obviated, as he can carry the instructions to the coachman, and also knows where to find the carriage when the performance is over.

Should a hired brougham be used.

To obviate waiting.

Should a hired brougham be used as a conveyance in going to any place of entertainment, or even a party at a private house, it is an excellent plan to give the coachman a bright-coloured handkerchief, scarlet or orange perhaps, that he may wear it conspicuously displayed, and can in this way be at once recognised. It is a miserable business on a wet night to hunt for a brougham up and down ill-lighted streets when in evening dress and patent leather boots, and anything that tends to shorten the task is advisable. Nor do ladies enjoy waiting in the draughty vestibule of opera-house, theatre, or concert- room for an indefinite period while a short-sighted cavalier is groping about the streets for their carriage.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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