Study: Audience Hearts Beat Together at the Theater, Unless Person Next to You is Really Annoying
by Catherine Weingarten. @sarahkaneissexy.
LONDON - The University of Central London Division of Psychological and Language Sciences issued a follow-up study to their viral report describing how members of an audiences’ hearts beat in sync during live performance by confirming that hearts do not, in fact, beat together in rare cases when the person next to you is really, really annoying, the department confirmed.
“I really was touched by our first study and how audiences across race, gender and class lines could connect during live performance,” noted Dr. Galleitha, who spearheaded the research project. “This followup study has shown that being near someone annoying can really affect your experience - for example, one time a baby threw Twizzlers at me during a production of Waiting for Godot and that really affected how the play resonated with me, and also my interest in having children in the future.”
Jameston Buckweath, an aspiring actor and participant in the study, had a different take on the results.
“I’m not surprised at all that not all,” noted Buckweath. “I once sat next to an older woman who kept whispering to me stories about World War Two during Cats on Broadway and I couldn’t focus on the show. I’m not a doctor, and I didn’t have a stethoscope, but I guarantee our beats could not have been further apart.”
Tom Bulderdash, a local artistic director, questioned how this could affect theater in the future.
“I do wonder how we can make theater a better experience for all involved,” questioned Bulderdash. “Is it worth kicking people out of the theater for being extra annoying? How do we quantify what’s annoying? Is blinking too loud a thing? Because if so, I’ve definitely experienced people doing that. Maybe we should hire a few hundred well-behaved seat fillers to set a good example for the audience.”
At press time, researchers are hoping the study will clear a path for more policy changes in terms of making audience members less annoying. Some artistic directors are considering a 6 week intensive audience training program to help get locals ready to see a show, with an extra two weeks added to the program if the show has more than one intermission.