You might enjoy a play or a movie, but how do you navigate the special circumstances which come with being an introvert crowded next to strangers in one spot, in the dark, for a couple of hours?
The most challenging moments might come before and after, when the house lights are up and everyone is engaged in small talk or finding a seat. Hopefully, during the play or movie you are so enraptured in the acting that you relax a bit about your surroundings.
Here are a few ideas for enjoying the theater a little bit more as an introvert.
- Create a social buffer by bringing a couple of friends or relatives that you like. Sit between them. Depending on your personality, you might feel less drained around people that you already know than you do around strangers.
- If no one is going with you, choose an aisle seat. Yes, you will need to do the aisle seat polka- stand up and sit down to allow others to pass through to the middle seats. However, there is one less person on one side of you to chatter.
- Remember why you are attending and choose only the plays or movies that you think you will especially enjoy. A grumpy theater patron was seated next to me once. No one, introverted or otherwise, would have found him pleasant, but I felt particularly unnerved. I contemplated leaving. Was it worth the time to sit through this play and his rudeness? Since I had wanted to see this play for years and had traveled far to see it, I decided that it was worth it. Had it been a movie theater, or other place without assigned seating, I would have found another seat or left. It was the value of the play that kept me there.
- Patronize specialty theaters that tend to be smaller and have fewer distractions. I visited the Alamo Cinema in Texas. They are a movie theater which has assigned seating and offers dinner. They have a policy which excludes children, except on one day of the week. I love the little ones; they do not bother me. However, for some people, including introverts and highly-sensitive people, a young child doing what children do during a movie is discomforting.
- Wait for the DVD or digital download. Nothing replaces live theater or a 30 foot screen. However, sometimes you just cannot be bothered with seeing a new release at the cinema or going to the theater. Wait until the film becomes available for home entertainment. Even some theater productions (dramas, operas, etc.) get a second life on film. Visit Digital Theatre for British theater on film. A few years ago, a company called Broadway Near You brought Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones to the cinema in their performance of Driving Miss Daisy at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne. This production was filmed and is now on DVD; this seems to be the wave of the future. [Side note: Stage performances will have a great boost in sales when virtual reality becomes commonplace. Immersive tech will help people to feel as if they are there without needing to physically travel to a specific theater. ]
- Appreciate the fact that -whether you are at the cinema or at a stage play- the house lights will turn down soon and shroud the crowd in darkness, giving your senses a break from ingesting input about those surrounding you.
What are your theater tips for introverts?