International Night performance displays lack of restraint within student body


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When juniors Austin Amacher and Collin Murphy walked onto the auditorium stage, the vast crowd of students, parents and staff–but mostly students–roared with applause and shouts of encouragement. The annual International Night talent show was in full swing, and the audience, just having witnessed an enthralling performance by students representing the Caribbean, was electrified.

The French flag projected behind them, Amacher and Murphy took their places to perform “Meditation de Thais,” a classical violin and piano piece by composer Jules Massenet. They stood on stage for a few seconds, waiting for the applause and chatter of the audience to wind down. When it was relatively quiet, the two began to play, Amacher on the violin with Murphy as the softer piano accompaniment.

Minh Vu
Amacher and Murphy during their performance.

Yet, the audience did not remain quiet– it grew louder as the performance progressed, with whispers becoming conversations and shushes just exacerbating the problem.

“At first I was really flattered and excited for the applause and cheering Collin and I received, but as we started our performance, the continued talking in some sections of the auditorium coupled with the waves of shushing were sort of disrespectful,” Amacher said. “After a minute or so into the piece it evolved into more a of hindrance because often times it was hard to hear my accompanist and even my own playing.”

As the chatting and subsequent shushing continued, some audience members turned on their cell phone flashlights to wave, as if attending a concert, except there was no rhythm to respectfully do so.

“I think a majority of the audience was being rude, and I think what really annoyed me [was] when people were shining their lights and putting [videos] on their Snapchats because it took even more away from the performance,” senior Jenny Huynh said.

The situation was upsetting to many, especially friends of Amacher and Murphy who were excited to see them perform but powerless to stop the crowd.

“I was so looking forward to seeing Austin and Collin perform, but the audience made it pretty much impossible to enjoy 90 percent of it,” junior Aleyda Brown said. “During [their] performance, as well as some others, no one seemed to appreciate the effort they put in in order to share part of the culture they represented.”

While witnessing the incident unfold was baffling to many of the audience members, the cause of such a disturbance is even more ambiguous.

Some attribute it a cyclical response, escalated by adrenaline and a certain amount of immaturity that comes with being a teenager.

“Honestly what motivates people to engage in the rude activity is the people around them. Individuals tend to follow the crowd, so if some people start acting obnoxious and are getting attention for it, others will follow in hopes of receiving that same attention or in order to be perceived as ‘cool,’” senior Charles Cobbs said.

While Amacher and Murphy’s performance was a distinct transition from the dances that occurred before, such representation of culture, even at a slower pace, is no less deserving of respect.

“Now I understand that our song selection was not exactly in line with many of the other performances stylistically and tempo-wise, but we both worked really hard to represent France at International Night,” Amacher said.

It seems as though the attentiveness of students correlates with interest and, in this case, can quickly turn to incivility.

“If the performer is presenting something that fulfills the interests of the majority of the Hayfield audience, that performer will get the utmost respect and attention,” Cobbs said. “However, if the performer is presenting an act that may not fulfill certain interests the audience has, then the act tends to be overlooked by the student audience.”

Regardless of cause, most can agree that the actions of the International Night crowd were not only disrespectful, but also indicative of a larger problem.

“I think they should’ve shown basic respect because I know their parents taught them that, and if they were on the stage, they would’ve wanted to be respected and not treated the way we were,” Murphy said.