Despite the popularity of the show, Saturday night’s 10 p.m. My Mother’s Fleabag performance hosted a much smaller crowd than in previous semesters, after many guests were asked to leave due to overcrowding in the O’Connell House.
Before the 10 p.m. show began, guests crowded both the upper and lower levels of the O’Connell House for the performance. Before the show could start, however, the BCPD and Karl Bell, assistant director of the Student Programs Office, asked students to step down from the balcony.
“The OCH has a very limited capacity and guests are prohibited from standing in the balcony to watch performances,” Bell said. “The OCH manager, BCPD, and I were concerned about student safety at the show. We took measures to make certain that each student/guest at the show was seated and that the number of guests did not exceed the capacity of the house for performances.”
Bryan Cocchiara, president and director for My Mother’s Fleabag and A&S ’13, gave a similar summary of the events of the night. “Karl Bell and the BCPD came and didn’t let the show start until everyone had come down off the balcony and found a seat in the audience,” Cocchiara said.
Bell stated that the decision to remove students from the balcony was done in the interest of student safety. He also said that the popularity of the show was a positive sign for BC as a whole.
“We realized before the second show began that the number of guests was well beyond capacity,” Bell said. “Realizing that this represented a potential hazard, we were forced to ask several guests (specifically those standing in the balcony) to leave the performance and also denied entry to several guests. This underscores the popularity of late night and weekend programming at Boston College and at the OCH in particular.”
The delay in removing students caused the show to start a half hour later than scheduled, and limited the number of guests attending the performance.
“It made sense because the balcony isn’t the most structurally stable and we were definitely over the recommended capacity for the O’Connell House,” Cocchiara said. “It was definitely done in the interest of safety, because if anything were to happen it would be on the University.”
Cocchiara maintained that the problem could have been resolved more effectively, however.
“It was unfortunate because the show started a half hour late and we were treated a bit like high school students,” Cocchiara said. “We would have rather dealt with the issue ourselves.”
For shows and performances, the O’Connell House has a relatively low capacity due to space constraints in the lobby area, where shows are held. In previous performances, far more guests were present. Pointing to the past, Cocchiara said that My Mother’s Fleabag shows have always been held in O’Connell House, and many have been over capacity.
“The O’Connell House is our historic venue and in the past we’ve looked the other way and let the police at the door deal with the issue of overcrowding,” Cocchiara said. “That’s why we’ve always liked to have them at our show. We never want to have to turn people away-what’s the point of having a show no one can come to?”