Friday, 11 May 2012

The Tall and the Short of it

One thing I’m quite precious over is theatre etiquette!  I believe in dressing smartly (and staying dressed), being quiet during the performance – that means no sweet rustling or chatting, sitting still and not fidgeting.

However, I must confess that on a recent trip to the theatre I broke two of these sacred rules – I took off my shoes and made quite a fuss while trying to put my leg underneath me up on the chair.

Why?! What could possibly be the reason for a self confessed theatre snob to act like such a theatre Neanderthal?

Because of one small fact – I’m short. At 5ft, if I’m sat behind someone who is even average height I struggle to see. If the person in front of me is tall, my view is completely obscured bar a strip of stage on either end. Basically, pretty much wherever I sit, I’m in a restricted view seat; Particularly if the seating is barely raked.

Having paid £65 for my ticket to this show, I wasn’t prepared to miss a second.

So what’s the solution? It would be unfair to tall people to compromise their own enjoyment by expecting them to sit at the back all the time; It’s further away from the stage and you’re less likely to be able to pick up on nuances in expression and performance, which is one of the things many people enjoy and the reason I will pay the higher prices for my tickets.

But then again, it’s unfair of tall people to expect short people to look around them just because of height, which neither of us can do anything about.

When I was a child (and even smaller than I am now) I used to sit on the upturned seat to give me the height boost. Of course, if I did this now, it would boost me too high and the theatregoers behind me would be, rightfully, outraged.

It did give me an idea, though... theatre booster seats. It wouldn’t be overly high, just enough to be the size of any other theatre goer of average height. After typing theatre booster seats into google, to see if such a product already exists, it turns out, it does:-

They are aimed at children, of course. Which is why, perhaps, this isn’t such a good idea. The humiliation of carrying in and inflating a booster seat meant for children. It would look a bit eccentric really.

Which is why I think there should be something more official provided by the theatre. Maybe made from the same (generally red, plush material) as the seating already installed which you can discreetly slide into place. Maybe they could even keep it under the seats so you don’t have to carry it in with you?

Then, my other idea, is a futuristic, high tech, ever so slightly far-fetched one:-

Every seat in the auditorium is electronically controlled by a central computer system with a programme which uses some kind of complex algorithm to analyse audience height and the natural rake of the theatre and then reconfigure the seats to the perfect viewing height to match each individual audience. Obviously you would be required to state your height & the height of everyone in your group when booking tickets....... yeah, I don’t see this happening anytime soon. This may be only slightly more achievable than this bloggers solution:-

Made me laugh, anyway.

I’d love to hear other peoples stories of height issues (particularly from a tall persons perspective, actually) or solutions to the problem, no matter how unrealistic. 


  1. I can imagine it's a pain sitting behind me in a theatre because if I'm sitting behind a tall person and I can't see, I will move from side to side constantly, with the action on stage rather than attempting to sit up tall and see over the heads (I'm about 5'4"). Of course I don't sit there swaying from side to side but if I can't see, I will shift to one side or the other.

  2. Yeah, I was doing that too lol. I think the couples either side of me were quite annoyed as when I came back to my seat after the interval they gave me the glare of death :s oh well, I paid money to see the show and see it I was going to do.

    There were moments where the tall guy leant into his girlfriend and I had the most perfect view ... which made it all the more heartbreaking when he sat up straight again. I felt like asking if he could stay cuddling up to her for the whole show lol.