Why Theaters Should Be a Little More Noisy

Why do people go to live events in the first place? It’s a question Jim has answered on this blog (here’s a tidbit from that post):

“But ultimately, you see something live because it’s more exciting than it is at home, and a big part of that feeling is that there are other people there.”

"Steeler Polamalu Fan," © 2010 daveynin, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

“Steeler Polamalu Fan,” © 2010 daveynin, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

And at many live events — sports and concerts, for example — audiences often yell, scream, cheer and trash talk. And while that behavior might not be wholly acceptable at the theater, this Group of Minds article highlights how we experience emotional intensity at sporting events — and how we should be experiencing it more in the arts.

“Emotional intensity of experiences in sports

Wide World of Sports is credited with the famous phrase ‘the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,’ and this is a great example of the extremes of emotion that sports often bring both participants and spectators. But there are several other factors at play:

• Spectators may feel that the intensity of their response has some effect on the outcome of the game.

• Children are often exposed to the excitement and family loyalty to a particular team early in life. This creates many opportunities to bond and have emotionally charged experiences with other family members, in a socially acceptable way.

• Being excited and showing it physically (yelling, jumping around, etc.) is socially acceptable, and feels good.

The article suggests we could be doing more to allow for higher levels of emotional intensity for our patrons. And while they’re not suggesting screaming in a symphony hall, you can read more at Group of Minds about increasing opportunities for intense emotional experiences in the arts.

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