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The people seated in the highest seats in the theater. I'm so nervous to take the stage tonight—I hope I don't get heckled by the gallery gods! Oh boy, we're going to be gallery gods in these terrible seats!
1. Literally, the section of seats in a theater that were the furthest away from the stage, and thus the least expensive. I don't see the point in going to the play if we're going to be stuck in the peanut gallery—we won't even be able to see anything way back there!
2. The people whose opinions or criticisms are considered unimportant, insignificant, or insincere. The president was overheard by several reporters saying that he didn't give a damn about what the peanut gallery of the country thought about his tax bill. A: "Yeah, but tonight we have to eat mom's cooking—that's punishment enough!" B: "Excuse me! No smart-aleck remarks from the peanut gallery, thank you very much!"
play to the gallery
To act, behave, or perform in such a way as to receive as much approval from an audience or spectators as one can get, especially the lowest common denominator among them. I wish the band played more of their new material and didn't just play to the gallery with their greatest hits the whole night. Rather than acting in a way that best suits the role and the play as a whole, he prefers to play to the gallery and soak up the spotlight when he can. She's a great basketball player, but she spends more time playing to the gallery than playing to win the game.
1. old-fashioned A collection of photographs of known criminals and suspects kept and used by police to identify people taken into custody. The constable recognized the shady character from the rogues' gallery back at the station.
2. By extension, any collection of unsavory, unpleasant, or undesirable people or things. Often used humorously or ironically. The film is a veritable rogues' gallery of bad cinema—bad direction, bad acting, bad cinematography, bad everything. The new studio calls is something of a rogues' gallery of developers that used to work for the biggest video game publishers in the industry.
play to the galleryand play to the crowd
to perform in a manner that will get the strong approval of the audience; to perform in a manner that will get the approval of the lower elements in the audience. John is a competent actor, but he has a tendency to play to the crowd. When he made the rude remark, he was just playing to the gallery.
play to the gallery
Appeal to spectators for maximum approval, as in He peppers his speeches with humor and wisecracks about his opponent, clearly playing to the gallery . In this term gallery refers to the cheapest seats in a British theater and hence the least sophisticated audience. [Late 1800s]
A police collection of pictures of criminals and suspects kept for identification purposes. For example, The detective went through the entire rogues' gallery but couldn't find a match with the suspect . [Mid-1800s]
play to the gallery
If someone such as a politician plays to the gallery, they say things to impress the public and make themselves popular, instead of dealing seriously with important matters. Others were reluctant to allow TV cameras into the House of Commons, because they feared that some members would play to the gallery. Her refusal to play to the gallery eventually won her the respect of her people. Note: The gallery in a theatre is a raised area like a large balcony, that usually contains the cheapest seats. In the past, the poorest and least educated people sat there. Actors and other performers found it easier to get applause from them than from the other members of the audience.
play to the galleryact in an exaggerated or histrionic manner, especially in order to appeal to popular taste.
From the mid 17th century the highest seating in a theatre was called the gallery, and it was here that the cheapest seats—and the least refined members of the audience—were to be found. This figurative expression dates from the late 19th century.
play to the ˈgallerybehave in an exaggerated way to attract ordinary people’s attention: The most popular and successful politicians in our history have always known how to play to the gallery.
In a theatre, the gallery is the highest level where the cheapest seats are.
a ˌrogues’ ˈgallery(informal, humorous) a collection of photographs of criminals: Have you seen these photos of the new teachers? What a rogues’ gallery!
play to the gallery, to
To appeal to the audience for maximum applause or effect. In the British theater the gallery holds the cheapest seats, and by extension, it was assumed that the audience there was the least sophisticated, the lowest common denominator. To court popularity from such patrons was considered demeaning. Rudyard Kipling used the term: “The instant we begin to think about success and the effect of our work—to play with one eye on the gallery—we lose power and touch and everything else” (The Light That Failed, 1890). See also grandstand play.
See also: play
Originally, a portrayal of a group of disreputable individuals, such as wanted criminals, but later used humorously for any group photograph. The term, also spelled rogue’s gallery, originated in the mid-1800s for a collection of criminals’ portraits. A century later it was used more lightly, as in “Bob Dylan, Arthur Lee, Keith Richard, Bob Marley—the rogue’s gallery of rebel input that forms the hard stuff at the centre of rock” (Kathy McKnight and John Tobler, Bob Marley: The Roots of Reggae, 1977).
A rowdy audience. The original peanut galleries were the cheapest, which is to say, the highest, seats in a theater or vaudeville house. Their patrons heckled and often threw peanuts (the least expensive items sold at the snack bar) at performers who didn't measure up to the audience's expectations. The most popular children's television show of the mid-20th century was Howdy Doody (Howdy, Mr. Bluster, Flub-A-Dub and other marionettes interacted with their human friends led by Buffalo Bob Smith and Clarabelle the Clown). The studio audience were children who sat in the Peanut Gallery and were encouraged to laugh, cheer, or boo at the show's riotous happenings.
Collection of “head shot” photographs. A rogues gallery is a compilation of “mug shot” photos of actual and suspected criminals maintained by police departments for purposes of identification. The practice began in the mid-19th century with the development of photography. By extension, any collection of head-and-shoulder photos, such as college fraternity composites and academic yearbooks, is jokingly referred to as rogues galleries.