By Berto Fernández
The theater is a magical place where people can go see all kinds of stories. You can buy a ticket to get transported to a fantasy land, a historical landmark, or even travel back in time to a specific era. All you have to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy, right? Well, yes, however, the audience is also an important member of the company. The actors and production team rely on patrons to be able to successfully tell the stories these playwrights and composers have created. This is a code of etiquette that theatregoers should abide by to ensure the enjoyment of the show as a whole. So here are a few tips and rules to have in mind next time you attend a live theatrical event.
1.TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE. SERIOUSLY.
The airplane mode is a great feature to use while enjoying a show if you’re not fond of turning the device completely off. Another tip, is to make sure you don’t have any alarms set that may override the silent mode, going off during a quiet scene and winning glares from fellow audience members and actors.
2. REACT, BUT DON’T DISTRACT
The actors live for your applause, laughter, gasps! But singing along to the score, or making loud side comments to yourself, people in your party, or even actors on stage (yes. That does happen.) is distracting to everyone. There are some exceptions to the rule with cult following shows, like Rocky Horror Picture Show, in which fans of the movie/play have specific callbacks to lines. Typically, the theater will inform patrons of it prior to the performance.
3. USE THE RESTROOM BEFORE THE SHOW
Arriving early to get your tickets and use the restroom is common courtesy, to ensure you don’t disrupt other people’s experience if nature calls mid-act. Be informed of the show length and intermission (or lack thereof!) so you can plan your breaks accordingly.
4. STOP THE CRINKLE
Some theaters will permit drinks and snacks inside the venue, but remember, you are not at the movie theater. There are live humans on stage performing for you, and they can ABSOLUTELY hear you reaching into your plastic bag of chips or cookies. If you MUST eat during the show, quietly remove the food from the bag BEFORE the show starts or during intermission so the container doesn’t disrupt the show. But, seriously, try not to eat during the show.
5. MIND YOUR COMMENTS
It can be tempting to tell your neighbors that you disliked a performer’s voice or costume but keep those comments to yourself. You never know who is sitting around you. Family members of that artist may be sitting close by and find your opinions of their loved ones offensive.
6. STAY OFF THE STAGE
Unless specifically stated in the program or advised by the staff, you are not allowed to go on stage. That includes resting your feet on the stage, if you are seated in the front row. It’s disrespectful to the artist’s playground, and you could potentially be liable for breaking a set piece or technical equipment.
7. STAY FOR THE BOWS
Of course, you’d like to beat the traffic rush, or get to your dog at home who is waiting to be walked, but the cast and crew has worked extremely hard to put on a performance for you, the least you can do is reward them with applause.
8. HAVE FUN!
Enjoy the show and tell your friends and family. Word of mouth is the best tool to keep theatre alive and well. We all need the escape from reality, so let’s work together to be the best possible audience member so the show can go on.
The End. Curtain.