Theatre Thursday

Theatre Rules of Engagement

An other opening!  An other show!  Tonight we open Addams Family the Musical at Central High School.

Last night we had our final dress rehearsal with a few invited guests (young students).  It occurred to me, as I watched people pop up and down, walk in and out, cell phones on and cell phones, feet on chairs etc. that the theatre experience is a new experience for most people.  Most people view their entertainment on Youtube, Netflix, sporting events, or movie theaters.  Most people may not have the opportunity to participate in live theatre as an audience member.  In an effort to help audiences avoid the risks of seeming boorish, I thought it would be appropriate to learn the proper way to manage your behavior in a performance to increase your level of enjoyment (and those around you).

First, please keep in mind that all of the people involved in a production – cast and crew – work extremely hard give their very best performance.  It is the job of the audience member to help the performers give their best performance possible.  The audience can help by practicing a few basic theater etiquette rules.

  • The theatre experience begins the moment you arrive.  Please arrive on time.  Please visit the restroom before you find your seat.  Please be polite as you crawl past others to your assigned seat.  Please treat the ushers with respect. If you arrive late, please enter during a scene change at the instruction of the usher.
  • Please turn off your cell phones.  It is acceptable to “unplug” for 2 and 1/2 hours and immerse yourself in the magical world of live theatre.  Your little screens are annoying to others around you who are attempting to enjoy the artistry of what is happening on stage.  You don’t even need them to take a picture (we have taken pictures if you need them), nor do you need them for taking video (video is against the copy-write laws).  Besides, the signals of cell phone attempting to get service disrupts the signals of wireless mics and other sound equipment.  For everyone’s enjoyment, please TURN THEM OFF!
  • Listen to the announcements that are made prior to the show.  These announcements share the rules of the theater, such as no food or drink in the theater or fire exit locations.
  • While you are at it, please remember that the Overture (the introductory music) in a Musical Theatre production is part of the performance, so be quiet and enjoy the “set up” for the story.
  • Please remember that theater is a LISTENING activity.  Please don’t talk during the performance… F.Y.I.  whispering is still talking.  Please be respectful of your fellow audience members who are listening and enjoying the performance.  It is also important to remember that the actors on stage can see and hear you at the same time you can see and hear them.  Be respectful of the actors.  Be attentive.
  • Please remain in your seat for the entire performance.  (That is why you visited the restroom before the performance began).  It is rude to get up in the middle of a quiet moment… rude to the actors and your fellow audience members.  It is, however, encouraged to take out disruptive children as quickly and as quietly as possible. When the screaming child is quieted, please return to your seat quickly and quietly, through the back of the auditorium at the end of a scene.  Please avoid walking in front of many people.  This is why we request that you use the back entrances upon re-entering the auditorium.  We often use the stairs and aisles for actors entrances and exits.  Move quickly and refrain from standing in doorways so that the show may flow smoothly. (Not to mention it is a fire hazard to sit or stand on stairs or in doorways during performances).
  • Please treat the theater space with respect.  We work hard to keep the seats in working order, so keep your feet on the floor.  We work hard to keep the theater space clean, so please do not bring in food or drinks into the theater.
  • Enjoy yourself!  Please laugh when the performance is funny.  Please applaud when it is appropriate during the performance.  Refrain from whistling or screaming out to the performers, with the exception of “Bravo” at the conclusion of the performance. This is theatre, not a sporting event!  Please applaud when the performance is over.  Stand and applaud if you feel the show was a great performance.  This tells the performers and the crew that you appreciate their hard work.
  • Please “check out” your program for announcements of other theatre opportunities at the theater and other theaters in the area.  The theatre experience is a great way to give yourself a “mini vacation,” to relax, to participate in discussion on pertinent topics, and to consider ways to change the world.
  • Please tell your friends and neighbors about the enlightening or entertaining theatre experience you have had.  We know that “word of mouth is so important!”

Going to live theater is a special experience that you will remember for a lifetime.  Everyone in the audience is looking forward to seeing the performance.  Please remember these simple theater etiquette rules and everyone will have a great time.  We appreciate you as our audience member.  Theatre is a shared experience.  It takes artists, performers and audience members to be successful!

Come to think of it… these little rules would make my movie viewing experience much better as well!

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A How-to – Painting a Large Scale Design on a Stage Floor

Building Flexible Ship Stairs for Escape Stairs

Stage Fright is Really… But Can Be Controlled

Correcting Corrective

Audition Helps!

Performing Arts Education Matters!

5 thoughts on “Theatre Rules of Engagement”

  1. I saw Les Mis and Rent this year and some audience members were disrespectful. First up in Rent, the couple next to my parents and I were whispering the entire time, which drove me nuts, this was my first time ever seeing the stage show and I waited five years to see it. Than with Les Mis, at some point, I heard someone’s cell phone go off. I wish were more respectful when it comes to theatre


    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I too hope for better audience behavior at performances. I think it comes through example and through education. Thank you for being a good audience member for the performances you attend!


      1. I have going to the theater since elementary school so I understand the rules. People need to learn how to respect other audience members and the cast. You have no idea how hard those actors have worked: acting is harder than it looks


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