Theatre Etiquette. Why is it all so complicated?

Gemma: I've always gone into the theatre with classical concert etiquette in mind. I have a background in classical music and it has been ingrained in me to never answer your cellphone or talk in the middle of a performance, and above all to be respectful to the performers. Desmond: Yeah, and never clap between the movements! That was always something I couldn’t stand. In classical music you always wait until the end of a piece before you applaud. But in theatre it seems that audience members love clapping after each musical number.

Erin: But as a performer, don’t you think that’s part of the experience? Waiting for the applause?

Gemma: That’s true to an extent. Every performer wants their moment of recognition. But applause has its time and place. I personally think it should be at the end because otherwise it breaks up the show and ruins its momentum.

Erin: Yeah, I feel like the main goal is to allow the performers to concentrate so they can give the best performance possible.

Desmond: True, it’s not like jazz music where it’s encouraged for audience members to verbally cheer on the musicians. I think you should be attentive and react naturally to the performance, but it shouldn’t be your intention to be disruptive to the performers.

Erin: But what about immersive theatre? What’s considered disruptive has changed over time.

Gemma: OMG, when I saw Sleep No More it was completely different than anything I’ve ever seen! But it was remarkable and it truly took me out of my comfort zone. There was even a time when an actress reached out to touch me and I wasn’t sure if I should have touched her hand or not. Before I could make a decision she walked away.

Desmond: Awkward…

Gemma: Haha, just a little. I now know that you should definitely take cues from the performers when attending any immersive theatre, because the last thing you should do is assume there are no boundaries. Looking back, I really wish I would have allowed myself to interact more with the actors and get the full experience of it.

Erin: Oh God, sorry to change the subject, but you know what I hate? When people come back from intermission while the second act has already started!

Gemma: It ruins everything!

Desmond: But guys, remember that it’s kind of hard to know when exactly to go back. Many shows don’t use instrumental interludes to lead back into the show.

Erin: Exactly, some shows don’t even use curtains.

Gemma: Don’t they use flickering lights to tell you to go sit down?

Erin: Well, they didn’t do that when I saw Book of Mormon…

Gemma: Oh, yeah. True.

Desmond: See that’s why I only use intermission to stretch my legs. Then I go back to my seat and wait for the show to begin.

Erin: What about food?

Gemma: Never!

Erin: I went through a brief dark period when I thought dinner theatre was a good idea.

Desmond: Hahaha, well at least if you’re going eat at all, open your wrappers before the show starts. Everyone these days just wants to multi-task.

Gemma: I know! I hate that. I just want to focus on what’s happening in front of me without added distractions.

Erin: Wait, did you hear about the cell phone scandal? The one with Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812? Google that right now! *Initiates googling*

Gemma: Okay, I’ve got it. Wait, so a guy actually threw this lady’s phone across the room just because she was googling? I think that might have been a BIT of an overreaction.

Desmond: I think he was kind of in the right. As a performer you get so frustrated when someone interrupts your performance. I would have thrown her phone too!

Gemma: Yeah, but it’s a fine line between expressing your displeasure and violence. That was destroying private property. He should have let the ushers deal with it.

Erin: I know, but ugh, when cell phones vibrate, it’s the worst. I think if you can’t turn your phone off for two hours, there is a bigger problem at hand.

Gemma: I think we’re all in agreement on that front.

Desmond: The other day I saw people rolling their eyes at a woman wearing jeans to the theatre. And there’s nothing wrong with that! I mean, it’s nice to dress up, but who cares if you don’t?

Gemma: You know, I almost think there’s a connection between how much you like a show, and how much you dress up for it. Because I’ve seen shows before in shorts and a top, but for Book of Mormon, I went all out with a dress, jewelry, the whole works.

Erin: Definitely. All the times I’ve student rushed, I’ve gotten up so early that I’d end up seeing shows in leggings and a t shirt and I always felt slightly underdressed. That’s the thing; we want all types of people to see theatre so it really shouldn’t matter if not everyone is wearing a ball gown.

Gemma: It also depends on when you find out about the tickets. If I am invited to a show last minute, I’ll usually just show up with what I’m already wearing. But if I’ve been planning to see a show, I’m much more likely to dress for the occasion.

Desmond: Yeah, good point. I think that what it comes down to is just sitting back and enjoying a performance.

Do you have any questions about what to do when going to a show? Let us know below.