play to the gallery

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Related to playing to the gallery: play havoc, play both ends against the middle

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.
See also: gallery, play, to
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

play to the gallery

 and 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.
See also: gallery, play, to
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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]
See also: gallery, play, to
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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.
See also: gallery, play, to
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

play to the gallery

act 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.
See also: gallery, play, to
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

play to the ˈgallery

behave 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.
See also: gallery, play, to
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

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, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
Commentators, journalists and politicians invest time writing and saying things that will make people admire or support them rather than dealing with important issues, more interested in playing to the gallery than exercising real influence on world events.
Rhaid cyfaddef fy mod mor falch o wrando ar Grayson Perry yn cyflwyno'r darlithoedd Playing to the Gallery eleni, achos mae'n cadarnhau fod y gwleidyddol yn iaith gyfoes, ac efallai mai'r sefyllfa yng Nghymru ar y funud sydd wedi ymwrthod a'r peth fel rhyw adwaith i'r Ymgyrch Iaith, Peintio'r Byd yn Wyrdd a Thryweryn - mi newidith pethau eto yn fuan siawns.
They are playing to the gallery without being serious about the need to balance the books".
The Prime Minister said that the political opponents, playing to the gallery, would not get political mileage they were hoping for.
Robert Hodgkinson, defending, said: "To some extent he was playing to the gallery; the gallery being his drug dealer who was waiting outside.''
And the opposition is playing to the gallery because there is a shortage of electricity," the paper quoted Gilani, as saying.
Playing to the gallery of his party faithful springs to mind.
Fourteen years on and now Pakistan captain, Afridi still enjoys playing to the gallery.
In a way it is full of typical Welsh storylines - miserable, playing to the gallery about the exploited working class (which they weren't), romantic about the rise of the trades unions and a moral tale about the dangers of unionism, in that the tragic hero, Iestyn Mortymer, is killed as an escaping prisoner on the way to jail at Monmouth, leaving a wife and child to starve.
Big Mac is a crowdpleaser who loves nothing more than playing to the gallery.
Dr Scobie says: "If you're always playing to the gallery, acting the fool or whatever, you'll eventually start questioning who you really are.
It is either he is just playing along or playing to the gallery. He is just buying time to take his decision and at the appropriate time, he will just leave.
Talking to this correspondent, Sadaqat Ali Abbasi, a PTI candidate for the National Assembly seat from the Murree-Kahuta constituency, said the PML-N government was just playing to the gallery to muster support in the forthcoming elections.
This is a definite time to reform the judicial system, instead of playing to the gallery. Our people want a profound reform, including higher standards and more training for judges, prosecutors and lawyers, as well as greater transparency in appointments.