by Shirley Lorraine
A Quick Refresher on Theater Etiquette
Attending a live performance is different than attending a film where one can happily munch on popcorn and slurp a drink. In live theater other rules of conduct apply. Take note of individual theatres’ rules. Some allow food and/or drink, some do not. Some allow only certain kinds of liquids, such as water. Patronize the snack bar but be mindful of the time constraint of the intermission.
As younger audiences are exposed to live theater, a few reminders on conduct prior to arrival may be in order. Even when attending a youth performance, show respect for the effort that has gone into putting the work on the stage. Applaud when appropriate. Refrain from screaming or yelling. (yes, you should be proud of your relatives and friends on stage, but a little restraint is appreciated by those around you. Be effusive after the performance.) Yelling out to specific actors is never acceptable except when attending a performance specifically designed for audience interaction. A melodrama, for example.
Becoming a role model for decorum and good manners helps everyone have an enjoyable experience.
Dress appropriately for the occasion. For an evening performance, use the opportunity to dress nicely. No torn jeans, shorts, or athletic wear. Matinees can be a bit more casual although looking nice is always appreciated. It shows respect. Me, I welcome an opportunity to dress up a bit. There are so few these days, it seems.
Arrive at the theater on time. (that means before the announced curtain time.) Early is always better to minimize disruption to other attendees. Prepare. Visit the theater’s website to make sure you have the correct curtain time and any other information that may be needed. Know before you go is always a good rule.
Visit the restroom before the performance begins, especially if there is no intermission. Unsure? Ask an usher.
Turn off cell phones and electronics for the duration. The audience is there to enjoy the show, not your personal conversations. Texting during a performance may be quiet, but the light from the phone is disruptive to others. Whatever it is, it can wait. If you are expecting an emergency or critical call, perhaps rescheduling your attendance is a good idea.
Be courteous to others. Wait your turn. No gum smacking, no talking during the performance.
Be aware that hats of any kind, and very tall hairdos, limit visibility for those seated behind you.
Keep personal belongings and obstacles (such as handbags, wraps, feet) close to you. Many performances may utilize the aisles, requiring a clear path. Each ticket entitles you to one seat and one seat only.
If you have special accommodation needs or questions, call the theater to let them know when you make your reservation. It is easier to make adjustments if circumstances are known in advance.
Make attending the theater an event to remember with pleasure. I look forward to seeing you there!