Live Theatre Etiquette

Going to the theatre is a very special experience, and one that you will remember for a long time. A production team puts in many long hours and a lot of hard work to mount a performance for an audience. If you keep in mind common courtesy for the performers as well as your fellow audience members, everyone’s theatre experience will be wonderful. What follows are a few guidelines for attending the theatre.

  • Please arrive on time. Theatre is live! It happens in the moment. You can’t rewind it. You are an important part of the show and you need to be there from the very beginning. The actors are there, so you need to be there, too. Arriving at least 20 minutes before show time is the standard rule.

  • If you are late, please wait until a break in the action on stage to be seated. Usually there will be an usher to assist you. Finding your seat after the show has begun causes a disruption that not only distracts those in the audience, but those who are performing on stage as well. The live theatre experience is not like the movies. Live people are on stage. They can hear you just like you can hear them.

  • Please go to the bathroom before the performance or at intermission. Getting up during the performance is disruptive to other audience members.

  • Most theatres do not permit eating or drinking in the auditorium. This is to make sure that audience members aren’t disrupted. Even a candy wrapper makes more noise than you think during a quiet moment on stage and the noise is very distracting to other audience members. If you think you might need a throat lozenge during the performance, try to unwrap it before the performance begins.

  • Please do not to talk to the actors while they’re performing. This is a live performance and the actors are concentrating on giving you the best performance possible.

  • PLEASE TURN OFF ALL cell phones, cameras, iPods, iPads, or any thing that can disturb the production, actors and the audience members during the performance. It is considered to be very impolite to have these items on during a performance. These devices not only create noise that is distracting, but they also create a great deal of light, which is very distracting in a dark theatre. If you can see the light from a screen, the actor on stage can see you.

  • Please keep your feet on the floor. Think about how nice it felt walking in to this beautiful space, and how cushy and comfortable the seat felt as you sat down in it. We want everyone to experience this. In order to make that happen, we need to take good care of it. If feet are constantly placed on seats and armrests, they won’t look nice for very long. Please be courteous and respectful of your surroundings.

  • The lights will dim just before a performance is about to begin, and then go completely dark. Show your knowledge by sitting quietly and calmly.

  • Please do not talk or whisper during the performance. Remember, If you can hear the actors on stage, they can hear you.

  • Show your appreciation by clapping. The actors love to hear applause. This shows how much you enjoyed the performance! In musical theatre it is appropriate and welcome to applaud at the end of each musical number.

  • Laughter is permissible, and very welcome, but only at appropriate times.

  • Please no taking of pictures or video recording while in the theatre. The material performed on stage is copyrighted material, and therefore protected under copyright law from reproduction of any kind without written permission.

  • Don’t leave your seat until the cast has taken their curtain call at the end. When the performance ends, wait patiently for your group to be called upon to exit.

And finally,

  • Please enjoy yourself. Going to the theatre should be fun! We want you to have an enjoyable time, and if you follow these theatre etiquette guidelines, the theatre will be enjoyable for everyone.