Today in 1883, a bizarre headline in the New York Times: “Actor Demoralized By Tomatoes.”
It says John Ritchie was onstage at Hempstead, Long Island doing a somersault, and “he probably would have succeeded had not a great many tomatoes struck him.”
Ritchie got upset, the audience encouraged him to get on with the show, and then when he did, they threw more tomatoes.
The article ends with Ritchie vowing “he will not give a performance at Hempstead again.”
Let me state the obvious: do not do this, even if there is a long tradition of audience members throwing things at a show.
Audiences even did this to Shakespeare!
According to Today I Found Out, this is why some of the Bard’s most serious plays have comedy bits in them, just to keep the audience from getting bummed out or bored.
Back then, the cheap seats were often up front, which meant pretty much any yahoo could wander in and throw something.
Though they probably didn’t toss tomatoes, because many people back then wrongly thought tomatoes were poisonous.
Instead, there were reports of people throwing eggs, peanuts, turnips, even chairs if they were really wound up.
And the throwing wasn’t always because they hated the show.
Some people had a kind of racket going; they would threaten to boo, throw things or otherwise grind a show to a halt if they weren’t paid off.
In some cases people threw things when they liked a show, like how, in more recent times, overexcited Beatles fans used to pelt the group with jelly beans during concerts.
Venues have taken lots of steps to head off wild audiences, or at least make the projectiles they might want to lob at the stage a little safer.
One reason those red plastic cups are big these days?
Unlike a full beer can or a glass bottle, a red cup isn’t gonna hurt the band playing at the bar.
This weekend in Yardley, Pennsylvania, it’s Canal-O-Ween.
First residents decorate pumpkins and put candles inside; then, the pumpkins float down the Delaware Canal as people take a scenic evening stroll.
So don’t cut any holes in the bottom of the jack-o-lanterns.
AN ACTOR DEMORALIZED BY TOMATOES. (The New York Times)
Canal-O-Ween: Pumpkins. Fire. Water. Magic – A Yardley, PA Experience (Experience Yardley)