Fans Ruining Martin Freeman’s Richard III? So Says The Telegraph!

Oh boy, do I have something to say about this…and it’s the opposite of what you might think and many may not agree with me, but my opinion actually comes from 20 years of professional experience as a theatre actress and entertainer.

Apparently the Telegraph has said that Martin Freeman’s fans are “ruining” the performances of his show, Richard III, currently running at London’s Trafalgar Studios, because they do not have ‘proper theatre etiquette‘, yet when I go on to read the article, (unless I’m missing a second half), it only accuses fans of clapping during the show and giving standing ovations…(I assume, at the end of the show.) So far I see no crime against the thespian society committed here. But, it may be a cultural thing…

STOP applauding for me! No...I jest, keep going.

STOP applauding for me! No, I jest…keep going.

British Blogger Claire Dikecoglu said: “I was irritated when the audience interrupted the flow of the play to clap and cheer Martin’s first scene. I understand that Martin Freeman is popular, but I have no bigger pet peeve, than everything getting standing ovations these days.”

Oh dear…another reporter with issues, perhaps? First of all…given the accusatory headline, I thought Dikecoglu was going to say the fans were giggling, passing love notes, and throwing their panties and room keys up to Martin during his “Now is the winter of our discontent” speech. Instead, we find them applauding a well known, and clearly loved actor, at the completion of what is arguably one of the most famous soliloquies in the history of theatre. Sorry, but that DOES happen. That’s the beauty of LIVE theatre! The response is pure, visceral, immediate and emotion-fueled. It can be electrifying! Haven’t you EVER been to a play where the lead actor (yes, oftentimes famous) walks on stage and stops the show cold with applause before they even utter a single word?

Stopping the show cold before she even opens her mouth...in EACH of these shows!

Elaine Paige. Stopping the show cold before she even opened her mouth…in EACH of these shows!

“I have no bigger pet peeve than everything getting standing ovations these days.”  Wow. Well that’s a pet peeve of mine because if this person walks into a theatre with that attitude before the curtain even rises…chances are these actors will not be receiving an ovation from this audience member no matter how great they are.

I’ve even seen a show’s SET receive applause when it’s first revealed. The original Broadway production of Les Miserables comes to mind, when the set is transformed into the barricades right before our eyes…I’ll never forget it! Dikecoglu would have been breathing into a paper bag at that point…

The set design that received applauds as it was revealed!

The set design that received applauds as it was revealed!

The Standing Ovation: I’ve definitely found that this is a custom not practiced by all cultures and it might be surprising to know that British audiences do not commonly enjoy giving standing ovations. I’ve been to brilliant performances in the West End and have found myself doing the “solo-standing O” at the end of the show and everyone sort of sneering at me as if to say, “Sit down…we don’t do that here!” But, American audiences do. They can’t WAIT to show their appreciation with applause and standing ovations. What is wrong with that? I see absolutely nothing wrong with that. (But then, to be fair…we’re also the one’s tossing up our panties and room keys at super sexy performers….)

“Unaware of theatre etiquette” the article says of Freeman’s fans. I’m sorry but this pro-performer says it’s actually GOOD etiquette to get up off your lazy butt…at the end of a long, emotion-filled performance where an actor has bared their soul on stage and left it there for you to feast on…and damn well give them a much deserved standing ovation! The performers appreciate it. They might not all admit it…(‘Oh I don’t do it for the accolades…’) but after 20-years of backstage dressing room conversations…I’m here to say, they LOVE it. Often times it’s the barometer of how well their performance went. Dead silent audience often translates to, “they hated me…”

If this blogger is annoyed by fan reaction to Martin Freeman…I would advise her to steer clear of the West End when Benedict Cumberbatch comes to town with Hamlet…because, even I will predict, there will be love notes and flying panties involved…and mostly from me.

Don’t judge me.

Richard III at The Trafalgar Studios. Stand and applaud!

Richard III at The Trafalgar Studios. Stand and applaud!

Richard III runs at The Trafalgar Studios through September 27. For tickets and info visit: http://trafalgartransformed.com/whats-on/richard-iii

Lady Anglophile…standing, applauding with panties at the ready!

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15 Responses to Fans Ruining Martin Freeman’s Richard III? So Says The Telegraph!

  1. Anonymous says:

    Having only been to a few West End shows in my day, I never noticed a lack of applause and accolades. Hope to be able to go again next year, and I will also be standing and applauding, sans panties. lol

  2. Kathy Chelsen says:

    Not judging you at all, but totally agree. I have seen actors walk onto a London stage and get applause just for that first entrance — Michael Ball comes to mind, but, come to think of it, I believe the British theatre press were not fond of him for that reason. Seems to me some of these theatre “snobs”need to get over themselves.

    BTW, this reminds me of something Alfie Boe told Michael Ball when Alfie was on Michael’s radio show. When Alfie appeared in the Royal Opera House production of Romeo et Juliette after doing Les Mis, he got cheers and ovations at the curtain call. An opera critic wrote that the fans would be the “death” of Alfie’s career. *rolleyes*

  3. Marie Astra says:

    Yes, well done!!Seems like some people are feeling like the number of stars actually means something! LOL!

  4. Barsine says:

    “First of all…given the accusatory headline, I thought Dikecoglu was going to say the fans were giggling, passing love notes, and throwing their panties and room keys up to Martin during his “Now is the winter of our discontent” speech.” – standing ovation for these lines! Oooops 😉

    Unfortunately I don’t have any experience (yet, I promise I will soon) as audience in a London play, but here in Italy, and in Spain the theatre etiquette goes all the way round. Last year in Rome’s Globe Theatre audience made an standing ovation after Queen Margaret’s monologue, and the actress was not a wide known face. As you say also in Opera the sets are applauded.
    I guess that in some people there is a kind of snobbish regard to audiences “coming from” TV and cinema. What they don’t understand is that without this new flock of spectators theatre would struggle even more to survive. Many of those that go to see Richard III for Martin, or went to see Hamlet for David, or will see the other Hamlet for Benedict will be the ones that will keep theatre alive in years to come, thunderstruck by the alchemy created when the curtain raises no matter how known are the faces on stage.

  5. filmkompass says:

    Reblogged this on Filmkompass and commented:
    Ja ja, diese bösen Fans. Stehen die einfach mitten im Stück auf und applaudieren. Furchtbar schlimm! 🙂

  6. Fay Keenan says:

    Couldn’t agree more, Marlise – theatre needs a good shakeup occasionally, if only to remind us that it is a participatory experience and not just a television without the screen. I’m not condoning knicker throwing, of course, but I don’t see anything wrong with applauding an actor/actress at first entrance or SO’s at the end. After all, more bonkers things happened in Shakepeare’s Globe 400 years ago. I shall probably be leading the SO when I see Richard Armitage in ‘The Crucible’ in August. But keeping firm hold of my knickers. Honest.

  7. athemag says:

    For me the only wrong with standing ovation is that I am short, and always seated behind somebody tall, and when we are both standing up, I don’t see anything more. Of course that was the case at the end of Richard III last Thursday, but I’m getting accustomed to it. And when I like a show, the enthusiasm of the audience is part of my pleasure too. I enjoyed the performance very much, I heard or saw no “ruining” reaction from fans, I heard every word of the play, everybody was respectful and enthusiastic at the same time. Martin Freeman was excellent as were the other actors. And I never saw “the Hobbit”.

  8. Anonymous says:

    First of all cheering and standing ovations have a long tradition in Great Britain. Since Shakespeare times the lead actor got his applause after famous speeches and sometimes they had to repeat them again and again. In plays and music shows ( opera, musical and all the other singing stuff) and sometimes the singer or the actor couldn’t go on for a half hour or more. It is not a modern thing and not only because auf big films or television series.If you read dairies or biographies you find much more and crazier things than clapping and throwing flowers. Forget this blogger, he is just jealous.

  9. Bakky19 says:

    Agreed, Marlise ! I’d give an arm and a leg to see one of my most favourite actors perform one of my most favourite Shakespearean Dramas, and while I’m all for etiquette and not bothering the rest of the audience, responding viscerally like you said is only proof of how deeply the actor has touched the audience. The opening lines are indeed iconic and they’re all the more so, when an actor of his status and calibre deliver them. One can hardly except an informed audience to stand upon (ironic figure of speech, I should think) etiquette and hid their excitement.I live all the way in India, if I ever got to see RA and Freeman performing in plays I love so dearly, trust me I’d howl through their tragedies and clap my hand red, STANDING once they’re done. Because, they deserve that degree of appreciation and it would mean THAT much to ME to watch them perform. It would a privilege I’d want to celebrate, and as long as I’m not being indecent( panties, room keys and such) I find nothing wrong with that.

  10. Bakky19 says:

    ** Would BE, what is wrong with me?

  11. Lena says:

    Perhaps someone someone can sort this out for me. What day was the annoyed blogger talking about? I saw Richard III on the 1st of
    July and wasn’t aware of people applauding after the soliloquoy (perhaps I didn’t hear it from row 17?)

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