Long before ‘Hamilton’ brouhaha, theater was anything but polite
The New York Times - 11/22/2016
Attending the theater before 1850 or so in the United States was far more akin to attending a football game today than to attending contemporary theater. The audience was expected to make some noise, and as the scene at “Richard III” shows, it exercised the right to influence what happened on the stage as well — not just by buying tickets, but also by speaking up and acting out. People attended the theater to be seen and to be heard. They went to make themselves visible as the “people” of a democratic nation, and they went to debate, enact and imagine political issues concerning class relations, immigration, federalism, Indian policy and the future shape of the nation.