Bears’ Beat Report: Theater Etiquette


Pretty much anyone who works in theatre has at least one audience-related horror story, and a lot of people who just see shows also have at least one audience-related horror story. To prevent some audience mishaps, here are some things that you should know if you go see a performance. And yes, these really do happen.

If you’re allowed to have snacks in the theater, make sure you go ahead and open them before the show starts. No one wants to hear your candy wrapper during a beautiful musical performance. And if you’re chewing gum, don’t put it in your program and then put the program on the recycling table, because then someone else is going to get your program. And it’s going to have your gum in it.

Go ahead and make sure that your phone is turned off before the show starts. Silent phones in theatre just don’t exist. It’s a big Murphy’s Law situation. Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, and if your phone’s just on silent, it will somehow manage to still ring, so make sure that your phone is completely turned off.

Please do not take pictures during the performance. Not only is it potentially illegal, but it is very distracting to both the audience members around you and the performers. Most likely, someone will professionally take photos, and you can always ask to just purchase the photos from the actual photographer.

If you’re seeing a show that you really love or are very familiar with, don’t sing or talk along with the actors during your favorite parts. It’s distracting for the people sitting next to you, and they’re paying to see the actors perform, not you, even though I’m sure you’re doing a great job.

During a performance, be aware of the people around you. If you’re sitting with your legs at a 180 degree angle, that might be making the people next to you uncomfortable, and the same goes for your arms. There are armrests for a reason. That’s kind of your area to be in, so don’t spread way across from where you’re supposed to be.

“When the audience doesn’t show, you know, just like basic respect and silence, it can be really disarming for performers,” says Elizabeth Tammi, a junior at Mercer University.

By following these simple guidelines, you can ensure that the theatrical experience is wonderful for everyone around you.