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Nima Alian

Mrs. Thomas
UWRIT 1101
Movie Theatre
I had a very hard time writing this paper because I wasnt able to connect the dots. With
the help of peer reviews I was able to improve my paper. I worked in a movie theatre for a few
years and enjoyed every minute of it, (yes even the rude customers). I believe that my paper is
strong because it describes the discourse community and then includes evidence that prove it is a
discourse community. I hope you all enjoy!
Entering a movie theatre is nothing short of a baffling experience. The senses are exposed
to the satisfying smell of popcorn and butter, while there are excited movie fanatics circling
around. Long counters with colorful candy displays capture the attention of customers at first
glance. Although it may seem frantic, the theatre is actually maintained by a dedicated group of
workers that form a discourse group. I worked at the Regal Theatre in Stonecrest for two years
and currently still work. I examined the Regal Theatre in more specific detail as my discourse
community. The theatre is a discourse group that works to ultimately satisfy customers through
communication of the team.
Working in the theatre is very different than most other jobs. There are three main duties
which include box office (where the tickets are sold), ushering and the concession stand.
Ushering is generally the least liked because it involves many hours of walking up and down the
theatre rooms to clean. Many of the employees may work at each of these areas during different
times of the day. The movie theatre also has several rush hours throughout the day as opposed to

other jobs which generally have one rush period. The theatre is also incredibly busy all day
Saturday, which calls for persistence of the workers. Therefore the workers must be able to work
under constant pressure and time constraints. While every job in the food industry has rude
customers, the theatre is notoriously known for incomparable customers. Some of the customers
have irrational complains which make the situation very difficult. These customers must be
treated very carefully to avoid a bad review. They may complain about any part of the theatre
and each employee must be ready to deal appropriately in each situation, even if they werent
responsible for the trouble. These unique characteristics make a theatre job stand out as a
discourse community.
John Swales is a professor of linguistics and codirector of the Michigan Corpus of
Academic Spoken Language at the University of Michigan. He received his Ph.D. from
Cambridge University and spent most of his career working with nonnative speakers of English.
Swales wrote an excerpt called Genre Analysis where he argues about how a discourse
community is different from a speech community. Swales discussed six characteristics that make
a discourse community unique: 1) has an agreed set of public goals, 2) includes mechanisms of
intercommunication, 3) uses participatory mechanisms, 4) utilizes and possess one or more
genres, 5) specific lexis and 6) has a threshold level of members. The movie theatre community
follows many of the characteristics that Swales defines.
Communication is the key to success in almost any environment or occupation. The
theatre employees use communication and teamwork to get the daily tasks done efficiently. I
observed the concession stand to see what I would find. Before the rush hours, half of the crew
would work in the back to restock, while the other half were on register. I noticed that the
workers who didnt have customers would run or prepare the order for the workers on register.

This is a clear example of structured teamwork. When rush time approached the whole scene
changed. All of the workers migrated to their registers and got on task. Each worker served
his/her customer, yet there was teamwork and communication in play. Every worker was aware
of his/her space and avoided running into other employees. The employees would also refill the
popcorn canister frequently so that no one would have to waste time. Once the rush was over
everybody worked together to clean and restock. One employee swept, another restocked while
the latter wiped the counter. Each worker in the theatre setting utilized teamwork and
communication. I interviewed employee Kaysie Quicano who said working at the theatre
requires everybodys help and attention. She also said we are all like one big family that tries
to keep the business running. Kaysie also described how the employees are friends with each
other and are never afraid to ask each other for assistance. The ability of the workers to speak
and cooperate with each other comfortably allows this discourse community to prosper.
There is a hierarchy that establishes status and management within the movie theatre.
There is a general manager who is the head of the whole theatre and is in charge of every aspect
of the theatre. The person below him is the assistant manager who has similar duties to the
general manager. The shift leaders are the next level under the assistant manager. The shift
leaders are in charge of a particular section of the theatre. For example there are one or two shift
leaders in charge of concessions and another in charge of the box office. While this hierarchy is
in place, nobody seemed to socially accept the status. The employees addressed the shift leader
in the concession stand as Kevin and spoke to him as if they were good friends as opposed to
addressing him formally. This allows the employees to maintain a good relationship with the
managers. Therefore there is no communication barrier between the employees and managers.
The employees often use code words to communicate. A lot of words are transmitted through the

walkie talkies. Some of them include pop for popcorn or just numbers to represent the different
theatre rooms. Only the workers understand the references, therefore contributing to the structure
of the discourse community. Usage of code words is directly related to Swales characteristic
regarding specific lexis. Specific lexis is described as the use of special terminology, which
Regal employees demonstrate. Discourse communities generally have secret communication to
avoid outsiders.
Most of the workers are friends with each other and arrange to meet outside of the
theatre. They have made many trips to restaurants and sporting events. Some include going to
IHOP, Chilis and a day trip to Carowinds. The older employees are very close to each other
because they have worked together for long periods of time. Once the newer employees enter the
discourse community they usually feel left out and unwanted. This actually happened to me
during my first few weeks of working at the theatre. As a result it is harder for the employees to
communicate and for the newer workers to ask for help. This creates a gap within the
communication system in the theatre. The gap creates a disturbance for a period of time.
Fortunately as time passes the newer employees start to get acquainted with the older more
experienced employee and therefor start to close the gap. Other disturbances might be made
when new managers come. Over the past few months several new shift leaders have come and a
new assistant manager also. The new managers were not very comfortable at first and had a hard
time adjusting to the new theatre. The workers also had a hard time adjusting to the new
managers. In fact many of the employees did not know the names of some of the newer
managers that recently started. As with new employees this can only be fixed through time.
The workers have created a Facebook page to facilitate communication within the
community. Swales characteristic of using participatory mechanisms to provide information

relates to the Facebook page, because it provides exchange of information within the community.
The Facebook page allows everyone to post a variety of information regarding work. Many
people posted shifts that they work in order to find other people who would cover the shift for
them. This Facebook group is closed to public and is only open to the Regal employees.
Important dates such as team meetings are also displayed on this page. Each person that tries to
join must get confirmation from the creator of the page, who is an old time employee. The
Facebook page enforces communication within the discourse community and allows information
to be circulated throughout the group.
The movie theatre has very specific characteristics that define it as a discourse
community. The employees are very hard working and understand the importance of teamwork
and communication. The primary purpose of the theatre is to satisfy every customer that walks
in. While satisfying everyone is impossible, the crew at Regal Stonecrest does a very good job at
keeping most of the customers happy. Each employee within the discourse community has codes
and friendly ways of communicating with other employees. They are also able to speak with the
managers without nervousness. The strong communication and effort within the community
allows the discourse community to prosper and to satisfy the customers in the best way possible.

Works Cited
"Connect with Friends and The world around You on Facebook." Facebook. Web. 17 Nov. 2014.
Quicano, Kaysie. Personal Interview.8 Nov.2014.
"Regal Stonecrest Cinemas 22." - Charlotte, NC. Web. 3 Dec. 2014.
Swales, John. The Concept of a Discoure Community.Genre Analysis: English in Academic and
Workplace Settings. Boston: Cambridge UP, 1990.21-32. Print