Should theatre’s have better security in place?
April 1, 2017  //  By:   //  Blog  //  Comments are off

As the lights went down at Sam Bailey‘s concert last night at the Orchard Theatre in her hometown of Dartford, a group of paralytic women took their seats near the back of the auditorium, two rows behind where I was sitting.

An announcement from Sam Bailey herself came over the tannoy, saying that she was raising money on this tour for the charity Rainbows Children’s Hospice who help sick children. A short video was played about the charity which was close to Sam’s heart but these women screamed, heckled and wolf whistled, very inappropriately throughout the entire thing.

Sam took the stage a few moments later and the girls spent the first few songs standing up, screaming and falling over each other until eventually everyone in that part of the auditorium turned around, and told them to sit down and be quiet.

Now, drunk people don’t really like to be told what to do and so this turned in to a screaming match between the girl, her friends and about ten other people sitting around them until eventually an Usher came over and told her she would have to leave. Eventually, as she was, let’s say ‘escorted’ from her seat by a few ushers, she began kicking and screaming and punching a few of her friends and innocent other audience members that she could reach.

She was wrestled to the floor and more people ran over to help restrain her and eventually she was taken out. I was left physically shaking in my seat just a few feet away from where this woman had been attacking random people. Despite the obvious raucous and the fact at this point no one was watching the stage, like a true professional, Sam carried on singing.

After the song Sam asked “are they gone now” and added “if you want to heckle this isn’t the show for you”.

About 90 minutes in to the show I had to go to the toilet and was shocked to hear the woman screaming “let me out, let me out you f**king pig” repeatedly and threatening to do some rather unsavoury things to the woman trying to calm her down. It transpired that Kent Police had been called and it seemed the woman had been locked in a room near the toilets until they arrived and was still being too aggressive to let out.

This incident made me realise we don’t really have proper security inside London theatres. There are a lot of Ushers but in a situation like this, does their job description include putting their lives in danger and wrestling a very aggressive and violent woman to the floor and restraining her? I doubt it very much. Many years ago I used to work in a supermarket and I once saw a shoplifter stealing a bottle of Vodka. He saw me and ran out of the shop, booze in hand. I didn’t run after him but later asked what I should do in that situation. Should I have confronted him and tried to stop him? “No” I was told. Because I was not insured under my job description incase something happened to me. Only security guards could chase them. So I’m guessing Ushers at the theatre probably should leave it to the trained security professionals to do their job.

But how many security guards are at the theatres we visit? The theatre should be a place where we feel safe and protected but sadly last night I was left shaken and very aware that in rare situations like these, is there anyone there to protect us?

Well done to the Orchard Theatre who handled the situation as best they could and I hope no audience members were too badly injured.

West End Wilma

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