Sickness and theatre just don't mix. Here's why.
By Michael Kras (Actor/Director/Playwright)
Scenario: The big night has arrived! You've got your tickets to The Book of Mormon which you paid through the nose for. You're slipping into your favourite dress or suit when all of a sudden, it hits you. Your stomach turns, your head spins, and you know what's coming. You go all Usain Bolt and book it for the bathroom, tossing yourself in front of the toilet just as you start tossing up dinner.
The truth is apparent: You're sick. Really sick. Do you:
A) Switch your evening wear for some cozy pajamas and crawl into bed with some tea and Tylenol?
B) Tell yourself that your stomach just didn't agree with your salmon dinner, throw on your jacket, and get in the car to head to the Eugene O'Neill Theatre?
If you answered A, good choice! If you answered B, definitely continue reading.
I've heard a fair amount of discussion about the topic of going to the theatre when you're sick. After all, 'tis the season for the flu and it's been hitting people left and right. But it's also because of the Broadway production of Grace making the news when a man in the balcony vomited on the patrons down below. I myself recently attended a show where two different people were physically ill in the audience. Something about this doesn't sit right with me.
Obviously, there's a definite difference between knowing your sick before you go to the theatre and having it just hit you during the Act I Finale. Sometimes, you don't even see it coming and you just can't help it. And that's fine! Getting sick sucks. Getting sick in a public place sucks harder. And it's one of those things that we just can't control.
This article is more or less focusing on the people who go to the theatre and know they're ill. Listen: if you're really, really sick, get the heck into your bed and rest. I know it's tough... after all, you've been looking forward to seeing the show for a long time and those tickets were freakin' expensive. I get that! But the unfortunate fact is that the world can be a cruel and unfair mistress sometimes. And sometimes, Jupiter and Mars don't quite align the way we want them to.
Do you really wanna be the guy (or gal) that exposes their contagious self to a crowd of people and puts them at risk of getting sick too? Or the person that pukes everywhere while sitting in a Broadway house mid-show? Not only does that suck for you, but you could also potentially ruin other people's night.
Consider the "Grace incident": The man literally bent over the edge of the balcony and threw up on like six people sitting below. Not only that, but he reportedly wanted to stay and watch the rest of the show! The people that got covered in grossness ended up having to go home, of course. I can't think of any play or musical where I'd willingly stick it out until the end while covered in someone else's bodily fluids. That just sucks for way more people than it should.
Let me say this: It's not worth it. I, like many people, have braved and ignored my illness to go out and do something I've been looking forward to doing. And I can honestly say that, in any of those circumstances, I never enjoyed myself. I felt like death, and it ruined my fun, even if I was doing something I'd otherwise be shaking with excitement from. In the end, you'll most likely wish you had just stayed home and gotten some rest.
So, next time you end up in a situation like that, just stay home and get some of that rest! No need to make it worse for yourself. Even though you're missing a show, you probably wouldn't have been able to fully enjoy it anyway. You'll thank yourself later for taking the time and caution to return back to your normal, awesome self.
Question of the Day: What's YOUR opinion on going to the theatre sick? Where do you stand on the issue? Drop a comment and let me know!