We’ve all been in that situation. No matter how much we like theatre, sometimes one stumbles upon a production so dull, so traumatically dull, that one simply has to leave in order to retain one’s sanity . Art is there to be enjoyed, respected and encouraged. This is true. But there comes a time in every art-lover, theatre-goer, life when it’s just too much. This short guide might help you casually escape with all (or most) of your dignity in tact. Trust me, I’ve been successfully sneaking out of theatre productions, ballet shows, prize-givings, speeches and for ten years.
Now, the golden rule about sneaking out without disturbing or offending fellow audience members is to make the rest of the audience actually crave your absence. When people want you to leave, you won’t offend anyone by leaving. The best way to do this is to bring along a Small Child. People will approve of you exposing Small Child to culture and art, although they may be suspicious of Small Child’s potential to disrupt the show with Small its noises. This is your secret weapon! When the production becomes unbearable and you want to leave in order to carry on with your life, move your head close to the child’s head and start to whimper. Heads will turn. Whimper louder, you can even cry a little (Google Ventriloquism for extra tips). Sit up again and look sternly at the Small Child. Shake your head and mouth ‘No!’ Tuck your head next to Small Child’s again and cry a little more. Sit up again, looking exasperated. Smile apologetically at those around you. Stand up and escort Small Child out of the theatre. Reward yourselves with ice-cream and sunshine.
If Small Child is unavailable, you will have to figure out something else. I find a cell-phone in the pocket is helpful. Pretend that it is ringing (obviously, because you respect the sacred space that is theatre, it will be on silent). Embarrassed, keep rejecting the call. Until eventually you ‘answer’, annoyed, saying “Not now! I’m watching a gripping and magnificent play!” then pause, look worried, “Hospital? I’m on my way…” Then rush out, apologetic again, polite and embarrassed but ultimately concerned . People will be on your side, you may even come across as noble. This strategy can also be executed during the interval, if there is one, provided you can survive Act One.
Some drastic but (depending on what kind of person you are) possibly enjoyable alternative escape routes include:
– loudly and proudly walk out in offense to something in the play. Work with what you have, nudity, language, inaccurate portrayal of historical character – improvise.
– fake a sneezing attack/coughing attack/other types of attack (but don’t go over the top in case of the unlikely event that there is a doctor in the house).
– drop to the ground, looking for your contact lens/glasses/tampon, search on floor, apologizing, until you find what you were looking for outside in the foyer. Not wanting to disrupt the play any further, simply choose not to go back in.
Remember to respect art. But more importantly, respect yourself. These tips may help with exhibitions, music shows, amateur comedy and more!