Appalled by school pupils' behaviour

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 September, 2013, 11:26pm


Last Friday, my friends and I attended the Globe Theatre's production of The Taming of the Shrew. We thought we had ideal seats - the middle of Row E of the dress circle - but no. We were virtually surrounded - in front, behind, and to the right - by students apparently from Sha Tin College.

Throughout the first half, these rude teenagers talked non-stop, which included those in front talking to those behind; moved forwards, backwards and sideways; played with mobile phones; passed pens to each other to fill in their rustling worksheets; and crunched crisps non-stop. Our glares and occasional whispered request for better behaviour were futile.

The first half of our evening was a waste of HK$600 each.

At the interval, we looked for their teacher. However, such a person was conspicuous by their absence, either because they genuinely weren't there, or because they were embarrassed by their students' unacceptable behaviour and their own inability to control it.

At this time, one of my friends asked for the name of the school from a boy in front.

If he deliberately gave us the wrong name, I apologise to the Sha Tin College community.

Fortunately, for our equanimity and enjoyment of an excellent and thought-provoking production, we were able to move to other seats for the second half. However, this should not have been necessary. Attending any professional theatre is a privilege and comes with certain responsibilities. These students did not display any sense of this privilege or any understanding of their responsibilities as members of the audience.

We are not old fuddy-duddies. My friends and I are all experienced secondary teachers. We work with teenagers daily.

Between us, we have taken students to numerous theatrical performances in many countries. Our students are told what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. They are not given worksheets to fill in during the performance, even if the performance is specifically for schools.

Teenagers are able to sit through a Shakespearean play without behaving as if they were at home. Unfortunately these students could not.

Until and unless they are able to do so, I suggest that the school does not inflict its students' poor behaviour on Hong Kong's theatre-loving public.

I also suggest that theatres do not sell block bookings of tickets to schools when seats within those blocks have already been sold to the public.

Julie Moffat, Ma On Shan