Five Rules of Theatre Etiquette
In a world filled with digital cable and home theater systems, the stage is no longer the focal point of weekend entertainment. Audience members are used to inanimate television boxes and flat movie screens, and they’ve forgotten the important role they play in the evening’s performance. Here are a few gentle reminders on proper etiquette for live theater audiences.
Arrive on time.
The curtain draws back, the actor speaks his first lines, and still people wander the aisles. Not only does this annoy those already seated, it draws energy away from the stage and into the audience. Get to the theater early enough to take care of any last minute business. There may be long lines for the washroom and at concession stands, and gulping down that pre-performance glass of wine isn’t in anyone’s best interests.
It is impossible not to hear loud whispers and conversations in an otherwise silent theater. Most audience members would prefer to listen to the playwright’s dialogue than follow a play-by-play of your aunt’s bladder operation. If you find you’re not interested in the performance or if there is something urgent you need to discuss, do everyone a favor and take the conversation outside.
Know what you’re in for.
While new experiences can broaden the mind, make sure that the show is right for you. Monty Python’s humor can be crude, and some modern plays are laced with profanity and cover taboo subject matters. Know this before you surprise your mother-in-law with tickets.
Review your program.
At the end of the show, unknown actors usually meet with obligatory applause. These same actors often play a variety of lesser roles in the production, displaying admirable versatility. Take a look at your program so your expression of gratitude is in line with the efforts offered.
Don’t leave before the curtain call.
Like slipping out of church in front of the priest, this is a great disrespect. The actors have assumedly earned your applause, and if you turn your back on them and walk out, they can see you.
Following these few simple rules and etiquette guidelines will help you to experience the true thrill of an evening at the theater.