So you’ve decided to go to the theatre

Welcome to the theatre. We are certainly glad to have you. It’s possible that you haven’t been to the theatre before, or maybe it’s been a long time since you’ve been to a play. Either way, there are a few things you should know about how to behave during a live theatrical production.

1. Turn off your cellphone: I know people tell you to do this all the time, say in movie theatres and the like, and it just as important here. In fact it may be more so. The glow of your cellphone is distracting to the people around you, and it can be seen from far away. Most everyone in the theatre can see that glow when you look at your phone. And worse, the actors can see you, and it’s distracting. No matter how concentrated an actor might be on the scene, the ethereal glow of the cellphone draws attention immediately. Which can be dangerous if the actor has to do something like sword fight. It’s also disrespectful. These actors are here, right now, putting their hearts and souls into the play you are, watching. Show them the respect they deserve and turn off your phone and pay attention.

2. No texting. This goes hand in hand with turning off your cellphone, but I have seen a lot of this lately, so it needs a separate entry. There is no excuse for texting in the theatre. Period. Not only is it distracting, to the people around you, but, as above, it’s disrespectful. So, turn off your phone.

3. No pictures. Put the camera away. That includes the one on your cellphone (which, should be off). I know that you are excited to be here, and that sharing or excitement by posting pictures of what we are doing or seeing is part of the digital culture, but its not appropriate here. There are a couple of reasons for this: a) copyright; the production you are seeing is copyrighted, and the set and costumes and images are all a part of that. b) It’s rude. The glow of the camera is just as distracting to the people around you as your phone. And if you left your flash on, then it’s even more so. It doesn’t matter if you turned off the flash, and the brightness of the screen, it can still be seen.

4. Stop talking. Sound carries in a theatre. What you think is a quiet whisper is actually carrying across the theatre. And to the stage. If you want to discuss something, wait till intermission. During the play is not the time to discuss how funny that line was or ask about something you might have missed.

5. Stay for the bows. The actors have spent the last two hours working hard to bring you the show you just saw. Thank them for their hard work. Don’t get up and leave before the bows start, stay in your seat and applaud. It’s not your chance to beat the rush to the parking lot while everyone else is distracted. It’s your chance to thank the actors for the show you just watched. Stay till its over.

Do you have any other suggestions for behaviour in the theatre? Share them in the comments.