Once upon a time there was a girl who loved going to the theatre. She loved it even more when one of her favourite actors was also starring in said play/musical.
She would go, be entertained and then after the show she would make her way round to stage door and wait patiently for said favourite actor/actress to appear. When they did she would join the mad rush of pushing and pulling to try and get to the front. Everyone wanted that autograph or selfie, I mean they were entitled to it, right?
Most times it was a success but sometimes she never quite made it to the front.
“I’m too short!” she would say “it should be better managed” and “that’s annoying”
Off home she would go, feeling annoyed that the actor/actress couldn’t have just stayed 10 minutes more, just so she could get her picture. Its their job!
Well, one day after going to see a play in London (she had waited a long time for this one) starring one of her all time favs, she was determined that no one was going to stop her getting that autograph,
So as usual after the show, she went round to stage door where she saw a sign stating that said actor would not be signing programmes or taking pictures after the show. Annoyed but thought it was kind of nice to know so she wouldn’t be standing around waiting for hours for them not to appear.
“Maybe next time” she thought.
As she turned away from stage door she was faced with her favourite actor leaving the front of the theatre. She didn’t spot him first, a big group of women were already racing their way over, screaming and thrusting their programmes and phones in his face. She couldn’t believe her luck. So off she went to join the ever so common madness of pushing and shoving to get her autograph, after all they are famous, this is part of their job. Its okay.
After a couple of minutes, this girl who was so desperate to get her programme signed, suddenly stop and looked round and instead of seeing an actor who she thought would be smiling, happy to sign these programmes and loving having selfies and girls screaming, he just looked tired. He had spent 2hrs pouring his heart and soul into his performance (one she was very lucky to see) but now he was surrounded, no not surrounded, mobbed by a group of screaming women.
There was no security (He was standing inside the safety of the theatre). She could hear him very polity saying that he had to go and that he was so sorry, he was trying back away but they kept closing in.
She backed away now, suddenly feeling very guilty. She looked around but didn’t really know what to do. Imagine being in the middle of those women, not knowing how to get out, I would be terrified.
Eventually the crowd slowly started to back off and then she found herself standing next to him, he was still apologising trying to get away but not wanting to come across rude. He didn’t want to come across rude? These women didn’t care that they were literally mobbing this poor man, who at a closer look, was tired and extremely uncomfortable. But this was her moment to ask him to sign her programme, she had been waiting for this, but instead she stood to the side and let him walk by.
He walked quickly away, girls still chasing after him screaming.
She walked over to her friend who had come to watch the play with her.
“did you get it?” she asked
“no I didn’t, but its okay because I got to watch him act on stage, doing what he does best and that’s good enough for me”.
It had suddenly dawned on her that she had been taking for granted the fact that she had been lucky enough to watch this wonderful actor do what he does best. The show was completely sold out, yet she was 4 rows from the stage getting to watch it first hand. It was one of the best things she had seen in so long.
Now that was enough, an autograph would have been the cherry on top but not like that.
They walked back to the train station, she had a lot to think about and a long train journey to do it on.
I have told this story because that girl was me and that play I saw was real, I watched an actor get surrounded by screaming girls and joined in. He had no security but everyone seemed to think that was ok.
If we saw that happen on the street to an “normal” person, we would be outraged, we would want to help, but no one helped that night because somehow its acceptable.
There were clear signs up saying he would not being doing stage door, probably for the simple reason of wanting to get back to his family or he was just tired. I mean he had just acted his arse off.
The point of this blog is not to name names or say what play I saw because that doesn’t matter, what matters is it happened and it happens all to often, I’m seeing more and more posts from actors who are saying they have been verbally abused at stage door for not signing or staying long enough, so I just wanted to add my voice, from an audience members point of view.
Be kind and remember actors are humans too. If they are happy to hang around to sign programmes and take selfies then fabulous but if they are not able to, please be respectful, they are not being rude, they are not “up themselves” or “arrogant. They are humans, who have lives and commitments.
I look back now and cringe at the way I used to join the crowds desperate for my autograph and selfie and not really think about the person in the middle.
That experience was definitely a learning curve and I’m making sure I never forget that lesson. Will I still go to stage door? Hell yes! Difference is I will be respectful of the actors and if they can’t be there or stay long then that’s fine. I was still lucky enough to watch them do a job that they love so much and that I love watching.
I have a huge respect for theatre and everyone involved but now that extends to stage door too.
Be kind, be respectful and be grateful.