Theatre Etiquette 101


It says "Please." That's nicer than I would say it.


I went to see a high school production this weekend and was absolutely appalled at the audience’s behavior.  While I don’t expect everyone to behave in a respectful way, this crowd was genuinely out of control.  They were so awful, it actually distracted me from any action happening on the stage.  And I was watching Shakespeare – so you KNOW there was a lot of action happening on the stage.  With that being said, I feel that as an actor, Theatre degree holder, and appreciator of the arts, it is my job to educate audiences out there.

1. This is not a movie theatre.  Believe it or not – what you see on stage is HAPPENING RIGHT NOW.  That means that all of those kids on stage can hear you when you start talking.  They can see you as you turn to your neighbor and begin to divert your attention from them.  Theatre kids are attention whores – they want it all.  Hello – they are on a stage with bright lights shining down on them and are willing to do anything to get you to notice them.  All you have to do is sit there and just watch them.  Easy.

2. Do you open bottled carbonated beverages or candy in church when it’s silent and everyone is paying attention to the speaker?  No?  Huh.  Well maybe you should apply that same rule to opening your drinks and food in a theatre.  Not only that, but when you s-l-o-w-l-y open your drink, it doesn’t make it any quieter.  I promise.  Then your gulping and slurping seriously make me choke back bile – but that’s just me.  I have issues with hearing people eating and drinking.  Gross.  Also, any other references to this question should be referred to the #1 – THIS IS NOT A MOVIE THEATRE.  Not only that, but at schools, due to a lot of the budget issues, custodians are not working nights or weekends.  This means that you are basically trashing the space of teens with the trash of your snacks.  Not cool.  Food and drinks aren’t allowed in the theatre for a reason.

3. Speaking of reasons, there is a reason small children are not allowed in movie theatres.  Most children have attention spans that are in direct relation to how old they are.  So, it might not be the best use of a night to take your infant and toddler to a play.  They do not care about what is happening on stage.  Why oh why would you ever want to bring small children to a play??  Did you forget that you are sitting in small seats without a plethora of toys and cartoons.

4. Along with the kids – there’s no need to EVER change a baby’s diaper in public.  I kid you not, this toddler started to yell out “Doo doo!” as the parents struggled to change the diaper while sitting in their seats.  Guess what happened?  The child ended up with no pants on running across the aisle.  This was reality.

5. You know how annoying it is when someone sits a few rows in front of you at the movies, and they constantly play on their phone?  Yeah, that bright light IS annoying.  Turn off your phone.  If you want to play on your phone, stay at home OR go to Starbucks and knock yourself out.  P.S. – remember those real kids on the stage?  They can see you.  They judge you.  And they begin to resent you – no matter who you are.

6. Why the heck can’t you stay in the seat you paid for?  Quit moving and leaving and coming and going.  Stay put.  The director KNOWS that you aren’t going to be able to go 2 hours without a bathroom break.  That’s why the kind director basically put in a long bathroom break for you.  It’s about 15 minutes – long enough for you to go on and do your thing AND get some sort of snack, which you should finish before entering through the auditorium doors.

My heart breaks for the students who bust their butts for YOU, the audience who couldn’t care less.  I also know that in writing this, the same people who I am talking to will never read this and even if they did – they wouldn’t have the realization that this is in any way talking about their faults and faux pas.


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