Theater Audience Etiquette


As an actor, as well as a theater patron, it really irritates me when some people don’t know how to act or behave when they come to see a live theatrical production.

Here are just a handful of helpful tips on theater audience etiquette:

1. Arrive at the theater at least, if not more, than 30 minutes before show time. This ensures that:

a. if you have not purchased your tickets, you can do so at the box office.

b. there is plenty of time to go to the bathroom before the show, so you don’t have to get up in the middle of the first act and disrupt everyone else’s theater experience.

2. If it is assigned seating, check for an auditorium map, locate your seats and use the appropriate entrance for your seats. If there is no map, ask an usher for the correct door to enter to reach your seats. This will ensure:

a. the shortest and most efficient way to get to your seats without having to travel the whole length of the row you’re sitting in, and having to say, “Excuse me…pardon me… etc” to other theater patrons who found their seats before you did.

3. Turn off your cell phone and put away your camera. Copyright laws for most theatrical productions prohibit the taking of pictures and/or video during a performance. Feel free to turn it back on at intermission and let everyone know what a great time you’re having and that they should come see the show!

4. Once the lights go down and the orchestra or music starts for the Overture, zip your lip.

a. This is not a time to talk, ask your friend if he/she turned off the stove before leaving the house, or if they remembered to lock the door.

b. This is the time to get in the mood for watching the performance you and others around you have paid money to see. The Overture sets the tone for the production and the orchestra is playing for you – be quiet and listen.

5. If you have seen the production many times or have memorized the soundtrack of the production you’re watching, please be courteous to those who are watching it for the first time and do not sing along (unless it is a sing-along) - or mouth the words without any sound! They paid to see and hear the actors onstage…not to be serenaded by the person next to them!

6. A nice, short applause is appropriate after musical numbers or scenes, but please don’t whoop and holler at your friend or family member onstage. This may ruin the mood and take others out of the moment in the show. Suspend your disbelief and see the people on stage as their characters and not your best friend. Save the whooping and hollering for the final curtain call to show your appreciation for a performance well done.

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