Dear theatre goers…
I am writing this because I am extremely disappointed with the behaviour I have seen, so I’m here to enlighten you on basic theatre manners. There is no secret hack to being at the theatre; there is one simple necessity, however.
It’s called respect.
Before the show
While standing in the line for the bathrooms, do NOT give any spoilers to the upcoming show. I went to see Kinky Boots in December last year (referred more than once because it was a particularly horrible experience). A discussion which dissected every finale costume was had right in my ear and I knew about what ended the first act before I even found my seat.
I’m not a party-pooper because I am a very excitable theatre goer too, but you’ve got to keep it to an appropriate level. Do NOT exceed a decibel level higher than it is comfortable for the human ear. Do NOT run about the auditorium, you’re not a toddler. And for the love of all things song and dance do NOT kick the chairs in front of you!
During the show
Surely y’all can wait approximately 60 minutes before you open your packet of sweets, which happen to be all individually wrapped (may I add). There have been two instances when the people sitting next to me have been so hungry that they couldn’t wait for the intermission. A couple of years ago I went to see The Play That Goes Wrong and the performance was ruined by a family night out in entire row behind would made little plastic bags full of food for the show. A creative but noisy idea. My anger was met with tears and a frequent stare – which I hoped would burn through their bags and quiet their munching.
When seeing a musical, do NOT sing along to every single song. I hate to be the one to tell you this but there is a reason that they’re on the stage and you’re not. That being said, the person next to you is watching the same show, it is unnecessary to turn to them to begin a conversation. Just sit and enjoy the beautiful piece of theatre in front of you.
The purpose of the intermission is to relieve your bladder, eat your snacks, discuss what you’ve just seen and to check your phone.
DO NOT CHECK YOUR PHONE! The theatre even makes the effort to tell the audience to turn their phones off – this applies to you as well. It distracts other audience members and the performers so sit back and escape in the theatre for two hours of your day. Wait for the intermission…please.
After the show
Should go without saying, do NOT push people when exiting the theatre. Everybody wants to leave as much as you so be patient and leave in an orderly fashion.
I stage door after every show I see, I enjoy meeting the people who inspire me and to thank them and congratulate them on a brilliant performance. There is a certain way to stage door – the key is to wait your turn. First come first serve. After Kinky Boots, I went to the stage door. There was me and my brother and a group of, what I can only describe as, over-excited chihuahuas. They stood right at the door, leaving little to no space for the actors to move. The man who played Charlie came out and the six of them screamed and hugged him.
First of all, personal space.
They asked him for umpteen photographs and signatures. They wouldn’t let the man go. They were aware that I was waiting my turn and yet they spoke at him, not with – at, for 20 minutes. This was December and I was cold. I actually apologised on behalf of them when I finally got to meet him.
The actors are human – treat them with respect. It is a privilege that we have the opportunity to see them after the show, be grateful and respectful.
In summary to this letter, please respect the theatre.
A fellow theatre goer