Niche Etiquette Part 2: Theatrical Manners

As I’ve gotten older, my tolerance for nonsense has decreased significantly. This specifically applies to the theatre, and how people behave as audience members. As an actor/theatre person, I just thought that this would be closer to common sense. It’s apparently not common, or even frequent. In part two of Niche Etiquette, I will be covering theatrical manners and audience member conduct that should be followed. Please, please follow at least some of these for my sanity.1. Turn it off

Okay. Excuse the apparent controversy that comes from this. However - UNLESS YOU HAVE A RELATIVE IN THE IN THE HOSPITAL/BABY ON THE WAY/ARE AN ON- CALL DOCTOR, TURN YOUR PHONE OFF. NOT VIBRATE, NOT SILENT. OFF. Why? It’s rude. Watching Desdemona get murdered loses all of it’s dramatic value if BABY GOT BACK interrupts it (yes this happened). Please just turn it off. If you’re expecting an emergency, try to get an aisle seat and leave quietly. You can wait a few hours to answer the email. Or just don’t go.

2. Don’t talk

Yeah…I do this too. I’m a talker, even in the theatre. But there’s something super frustrating from an actor’s perspective if you’re delivering a dope monologue about your dead spouse and you can see two people in the third row having a full-on CONVERSATION about whatever. Side note - we can usually hear you. You may think you’re whispering, but the theatre is a strange space where sound just echoes all over the place. Obviously, there are exceptions to this, but just…if you can avoid talking about it until intermission, we’d appreciate it.

3. Be on time

Do everything you can to be on time to the show. Save for a few productions, the house lights will go down to either dimmed or fully dark. So, when you arrive fifteen minutes into the first act of the show, it lets light in and may ruin the ambiance, or if you bother an usher with your complaining and yelling about how they aren’t letting you in, you're being disruptive. (Bonus Tip: Please be nice to all theatrical staff. All of them. Unless they actively beat you with a shovel, be nice to them.)

4. Clean up after yourself

Although the part of the theatre where the audience sits is called the “house”, it is not your home. Pick up your garbage. All of it. Treat the theatre like the beach: take only memories, leave only footprints - OH THAT REMINDS ME. If you take photos of the show, you’re violating copyright laws. So, don’t.


Two exceptions: You’re in the show (and I mean actually in the show, not just showing off how drunk you are) or the show has an interactive aspect on stage (think the open bar during Once). The stage is a sacred place to actors and crew alike, so when you, an outside observer TOUCH/ STEP ON the sacred space, you’re interrupting the suspension of disbelief the audience is supposed to have. We get it, the set is really pretty, and we love playing on it as much as you do, but please just look and don’t touch.

Also, if you leave anything on the stage, you’re endangering the actors. Please remember that they are people too, and a broken leg on an actor is a REAL BROKEN LEG. Please take your purse off the edge of the stage.

If you follow these basic rules, you’ll ensure a positive theatre experience for yourself, and for the actors/crew. Enjoy the show!