Hackers in Hancher? Perish the thought, or better yet, pass the Ludens or Vicks.

Coughers and sneezers at the University of Iowa's Hancher Auditorium are being encouraged to accept free cough drops from ushers or watch the performance from a soundproof observation room where they can hack and sneeze in obscurity.Hancher officials cracked down on the free expression of winter colds because the auditorium's lively acoustics accent the throaty sounds.

Pianist Mitsuko Uchida was disturbed by patron coughing at a Jan. 30 performance, sending officials into a panic. Marketing director Judith Hurtig said she worried that upcoming performers would say something to the audience and cast a chill on the event.

So Hancher began running coughing etiquette rules on playbills and the campaign to ban colds from Hancher apparently worked.

Hurtig said subsequent performances have been stunning for their stillness from the audience.