Disruptive audiences have sparked a row between two Scottish theatres centering on the sale of alcohol in auditoriums.

Colin Marr, Director of Edinburgh Playhouse issued a social media post saying he was "disgusted" with the recent conduct of a minority of theatre-goers.

He said staff had been verbally and physically assaulted "while trying to do their job" with one punched two weeks ago and another spat on.

He said disruptive behaviour was becoming a regular occurrence in theatres generally.

He writes: "There is a very small minority of people who come to our theatre and choose to sing, dance and talk throughout the show in a manner that disturbs others. 

"They either don’t know, or don’t care, how much this spoils their fellow audience members’ experience. 

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"When one of my team asks them politely to stop they become verbally abusive and, in some cases, physical. This is not acceptable."

He warned theatre-goers that police would be called for threatening, intimidating or abusive behaviour and they could face a ban from all ATG (Ambassador Theatre Group) venues.

However, Glasgow's Pavilion Theatre responded to his comments appearing to put most of the blame on ATG for disruptive behaviour.

A spokesperson for the theatre, which is up for sale, suggested the company had to take some responsibility for incidents because they allow alcohol to be brought into the auditorium.

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The theatre claimed some venues could be breaching licensing laws by not "checking the condition" of the customer and delivering drinks to seats and accused ATG of "putting profits ahead of the customer's experience".

The spokesperson writes:  "With the greatest of respect and I never like to comment on how others run their theatres as we are all individuals, but you cannot put all the blame onto the paying customers.

"Yes, we all suffer from this kind of abuse nowadays, which since COVID and the lockdown period has simply got worse and is totally unacceptable. 

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"Only recently, we have had staff subjected to unacceptable racial abuse that I have never heard in my 45 years in the business. Currently we are all hitting the press for the wrong reasons.

"But looking at a lot of venues, most of the blame is in house. 

"Allowing alcohol to be brought into the auditorium and by selling alcohol to be delivered to the customer's seat; without complying to the current licensing laws by checking the condition of the customer who is then about to consume even more alcohol.

"I would personally question if the venues that do provide alcoholic drink to be served to the seats if they are complying with the current licensing laws as I am sure they are only licensed to serve alcohol within their bar areas and this should be limited to numbers in each area and clearly to serve everyone within the theatre, you would need treble the toilet and other facilities to comply with the current licensing legislation."

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A spokeswoman for ATG said all venues complied with Scottish licensing laws.

In September The Herald revealed that Glasgow's Pavilion was going on the market for £3.9million.

Owners, Tim and ADD Martin, have put the building up for sale amidst talks with Ambassador Theatre Group, who run the King's Theatre and Theatre Royal.

Cinemas increasingly now allow people to take alcohol into the auditorium.

The Pavilion spokesperson said theatres in the past opened bars before the show, during the interval and occasionally at the end.

They said: "It is and was ATG that introduced bars being open during the performances.

"It was ATG that introduced drinks being brought to your seat, so how can you now start to complain about the condition that members of the public get into during a show. 

"It is simple, check customers trying to bring their own alcohol in prior to entering the theatre, anyone who looks or sounds intoxicated should not get in. 

The spokesperson added: "Venues need to think of the customer experience first rather than the profit they make from their inflated alcohol prices.

"The sad part of all this is that it reflects badly on all theatres, not just the greedy ones who have caused the problems."

A spokeswoman for ATG said:  "We’re taking a multi-disciplinary approach to tackling audience behaviour and how we responsibly sell alcohol is only one part of this.  

"Our bars and at-seat service are open for 50 minutes before a performance starts and for 20 minutes during the interval; there is no service whilst musical performances are happening. 

"We employ trained security staff on every performance in addition to our own venue staff, and they conduct bag checks when customers come into the theatre to ensure people are not bringing alcohol into the building.  

"We also do regular wellbeing checks when customers arrive and throughout the evening.