Let’s Leave Some Things in 2019

Chatting in the theatre: no

Ellen Eastwood
4 min readApr 7, 2022


Picture of people smiling while watching a movie in a movie theatre
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko at Pexels


Last night was my first time seeing live theatre since the pandemic started. I bought the ticket back in Fall 2019. The performance was scheduled for March 17, 2020. Oops.

The theatre company optimistically rescheduled for April 2021 but sadly, their hopes were in vain. So finally, in April 2022, I was able to use the ticket I bought 2 and a half years ago.

Walking into the theatre, I felt like a different person than I was the last time I saw a play. I had a new appreciation for the luxury and privilege of a night out to see a great performance with other theatre-goers. COVID isn’t over, but at the same time, parts of life have been restored.

Shen Yun is a dance performance reflecting Chinese history and culture. It’s both graceful and extremely athletic. I had good seats in an upper box. I had every expectation for a great night.

Couldn’t resist this opportunity to showcase the world’s most overused image to convey my excitement / Photo by Andrea Piacquadio at Pexels


Soon after the house lights dimmed, I was brought back to 2019 when the women beside me started a hushed commentary on the costumes and performances. They whispered continuously throughout the show.

Then the couple on my right also decided they couldn’t enjoy the show without discussing it at length while it was happening. Well, to be fair to her, she was pretty quiet. It was her partner’s deep baritone whisper continuously buzzing in my ear.

The people on both sides of me chatted through the entire performance like they were sitting in their respective living rooms.

I haven’t mentioned it before, but I have tinnitus. Luckily, I don’t have a continuous loud ringing in my ears, it’s more like distant cicadas chirping. Add two sets of continuous buzzy whispers from my neighbors, and this night was not what I imagined it would be.

I’m not a monster, I’m fine with the occasional whisper. But why do people think it’s okay to make a public performance all about them and their apparent need to discuss things live while the actual performance is taking place? I can’t imagine how oblivious you must be to think that’s okay.

I’ve been known on occasion to ask people to be quiet during performances. It takes a lot out of me, though. I don’t like telling anyone what to do, let alone strangers. Besides, I don’t think I should have to teach people basic etiquette. Last night, I just wasn’t up for it.

There are things we should leave back in 2019, and talking in theatres is one of them. So is checking your phone in the theatre. It’s funny, the employees gave us several reminders to shut off our phones before the performance, and I didn’t see one bright screen all night.

No one asked people not to make a running commentary, though. Presumably, they thought that was just table stakes.

We live in an era when people are coming into their own, and honoring who they are and who they want to be. A woman on LinkedIn posted her newest profile picture with the words: “my first professional picture with my real hair.” It garnered 10s of thousands of likes and brought me to tears. This is the beauty of our times.

But let us not confuse personal empowerment with the right to never consider the needs of others. Just because we want to do something doesn’t mean we should. Many of us spent the last 2 and a half years focused on the collective good — please tell me some of it is going to stick.

People around us paid to see the show, not to hear us whisper. I think the Medium audience is above average on the consideration scale and probably doesn’t need to hear this. But my annoyed self needed to write it, so thanks for indulging me.

Ultimately I convinced myself not to let the four people around me ruin a night 2 and a half years in the making, and I’m glad I did. The dancers deserved that, and so do I. I just wish I hadn’t had to use willpower to ignore the selfishness of people around me. Sigh.

It seems like a lifetime has passed since COVID started. I’m sad to see some things still haven’t changed.

Thanks to Sean Kernan for fanning the flames of my ire with this article. Four more things to leave in 2019.

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Ellen Eastwood

Culture and lifestyle writer | Generalist | Curious | Witty on a good day | Contact: elleneastwood@outlook.com