I am a proud grandparent to an 11-year-old granddaughter. Her name is Taylor. Now, Taylor happens to be into acting and singing. And, of course, being her grandparent, I think she is the cat’s meow when it comes to talent. So, when she was given the leading female role in Oliver, I couldn’t wait to see her. Theatre etiquette doesn’t just stop at The Shuster, or Victoria Theatre. Theatre etiquette should carry through, even in a high-school or grade school performance. My daughter had arrived early and saved my husband and me a seat in the theatre to see Taylor perform the role of Nancy. We are approximately ¾ the way back. The lights start to dim. You know the feeling you get when the production is about to start.
Excitement! Right as the lights dim, a woman, who probably had a child in the production as well, sat right in front of me. Now that’s no big deal, you say. She should be welcome to sit anywhere she likes, but she was a rather tall woman. Not only was she tall, but she had tied all of her hair into the largest beehive bun that I have ever seen! Why didn’t she simply wear a hat! I had to lean to the left and right to see around her. Okay, that, I can deal with, but still – really?!
The music starts and the curtain opens! What does my beehived friend in front of me do? She holds up her ipad to record the entire play. Yes, ipad, not ipod, or iphone — but ipad! I could not believe my eyes.
Here are a few Theatre Etiquette Tips to pass on:
- Cell phones are a no, no. If you need to, set your phone on the lowest vibrate that there is, where you can feel it, not see or hear it. Even the light from the phone can be distracting to others. If you have children and baby sitter issues, try to sit where you can get out without distracting others if you have to take an emergency call.
- Please……try not to talk or whisper during a performance. You and the person you are talking to are NOT the only ones in the theatre. You can be heard.
- Be courteous. If you have to leave for any unexpected reason, saying “excuse me” and “thank you” is always welcome.
- Don’t subject others. If you are sick, and have been coughing, be kind and give your ticket to a friend who won’t do so. If you happen to cough during a production, use a Kleenex or hankie to muzzle the sound, or excuse yourself if need be.
- Try to sit still. I know you have been at a production, or even a movie, and had the back of your seat kicked. And if you are with a child, please share “no kicking the seat in front of you” before entering the theatre.
- Don’t wear hats or high hairdos. Be aware there are people behind you. If you are extremely tall, try to pick a seat on the isle or in the back if you can. Never pull an ipad out to record the performance, even if videotaping is allowed! It has been done!!
- Singing along. Only sing along with musicals if it is appropriate. There are some musicals that the crowd should clap and sing along. There are some musicals where it is inappropriate. In other words, follow the crowd.
- Dress appropriately. You do not have to wear a tuxedo or ball gown, but the theatre is still the theatre. Dress like you are going to something special. Flip flops, jeans and t-shirts are not appropriate.
- Drinking. Don’t over drink at intermission or before the performance. You don’t want to appear sloppy and you will want to remember the performance.
- Photography. If there has been an announcement “no photography allowd”, flash or video, don’t do it. There is always someone who ignores the rules and has to cross the line. It is distracting to others.
- Be patient. When entering or leaving any event where there is a large crowd, it may move slowly. There is nothing worse than someone bullying their way through the crowd to get in or out of the theatre, movies, or even an airplane. Be courteous to others. They want to get in and out swiftly as well. Where’s The Fire??!!
To sum up Theatre Etiquette: Have fun, smile and enjoy yourself. There’s nothing like the Theatre!! “I’m ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille”.