No Fly On the Wall at Stick Fly

By Sabrina Khan A sharp and witty play about an upper class, modern Black family, Stick Fly is making strides on Broadway in a fresh yet familiar way. It's inspiring as much conversation outside the theatre as it is within it — even while the show is playing. @AngelMayReed tweeted: "Not sure what was more entertaining the play or the audience reaction!!!" It's certainly a melodramatic show, and the audience seems to be just as melodramatic while viewing it.  There's even been controversy surrounding how the audience has been responding vocally to the wild and sometimes explicit lines running off the actors' lips. And why not? I think some shows call for that. When comedies play for a raucous crowd that registers every joke with a laugh, the cast calls it a good night. When dramas greet an intense crowd listening to every word with bated breath, its cast calls it a good night. But when something like Stick Fly falls somewhere in between, a good night is when the crowd is so wrapped up in the performance, audience members are both laughing and tense and literally expressing both at the same time. But, this begs the question: What is appropriate theatre behavior in terms of audience reaction? Is it okay to communicate with the cast? To hoot and holler? Even whistle? I'm not saying that happened at the show, but can it? When we're moved by a show, we cry. When we feel an act was particularly powerful, we applaud. When we find a line humorous, we laugh. That's all accepted. But this is a live performance we're watching, just as live as a concert, so are we allowed to react beyond what's conventionally accepted? How much is too much? Or does it depend on the show? Tell us in the comments!