Theatre Etiquette – Chapter 2: Before The Show

This is Chapter 2 of a series of articles called Theatre Etiquette. It is basically a compilation of Show audience DOs and DON’Ts (Mostly DON’Ts, hehe) You can read Chapter 1: Choosing a Show by clicking here.

So now you have chosen your show, you have your tickets (good ones I hope) and you know what the show is about and why it should be seen. Great!

Now probably not the very first question in your mind but an important one is how to dress for the occasion. Well in most cases this is not a big issue anymore. In most cases it is not inappropriate to go as you would go to the supermarket. However, there are two main reasons why you should care. The first one is dress codes, to most theatrical events you should dress casual. For Opera and Ballet usually you are supposed to dress a little bit more formal. Another thing to consider is if the show happens at night, or if its a Matinée, events at night evidently require more formal dressing and usually darker. If its an opening night, gala, or special performance it depends on the kind of celebration that will go with the show. But with so many exceptions and experimental shows, if you are unsure on how to dress the very best way to know is to call the box office or front of house and ask, you have nothing to loose. The second reason, is to make your evening special, remember a night in a show its all about making an experience out of it, and to dress up and smell nice will always make it feel a bit better. In any circumstance the important part is to be comfortable, with your clothes and with your circle.

So now you are ready to go. But before you leave, I know I will sound like your mother, but please go to the bathroom, that way you don’t have to go once you get there (unless you are my mom or aunt). Arriving on time is essential to enjoy the show and let other people enjoy it as well. Plan to arrive an hour before the show if you are going to a place where you need to park. 30 minutes is more than enough where you don’t have to park. As I said before, this is all part of making theatre an experience. Have a glass of wine or a drink before the show, talk about your expectations or what you’ve heard about the show you are going to see, or anything else you want to talk about because once the show starts you will not be able to (or at least you shouldn’t). And I hate to sound repetitive but go the bathroom, its better to take your time right now than to crowd the intermission toilet run.

The beginning of the show is one of the most crucial parts of any spectacle. This is the part where I continue to sound like your mother. First things first, late comers suck! We all hate you! Yes, if you think when you are late you are ruining a show for yourself, think on all the people you are ruining the show for that also paid a ticket (most likely an expensive one) and arrived on time. So please arrive when you are supposed to. Many theatres won’t allow late comers to go in until a specific point in the show and some others will have late comer seats all the way in the back and won’t let you go to your seat until intermission (if there is one) so plan ahead. But if you do manage to be in the building, please be in your seat on time and wait. Some people stand up and leave and go to the bathroom last minute because the show hasn’t started yet, even if its time to. What many people doesn’t realize is that very often shows actually don’t start because there are people still in the lobby, people buying tickets (yes, that was supposed to happen days ago), or people in the bathroom (remember when I said you should go before leaving?) so please do help.

This may sound familiar but PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CELLPHONES AND PAGERS. (Who still has a pager these days?). I know, this is a given one but WOW, it is extremely rare these days where a show isn’t interrupted by a cellphone. Also notice that the instruction is to turn it OFF. This is because when cell phones started, they would interfere with the RC (radio control) systems and could potentially trigger a set movement or crazy stuff like that. In very crowded places the excessive amount of cell phone signals can disrupt the Wireless Mic systems. Also very often technicians hear cell phone waves (that creepy sound you hear when your phone rings next to a speaker) on clear-com and distracts them. However, if you can’t disconnect from whatever you do for a couple hours, please by all means, do not let it make a sound, and if it vibrates don’t even think about answering. SMS to explain or just say: I’m in the theatre I’ll cal you back. Anything more than that is totally unacceptable.

The most important part is coming in Chapter 3: During the Show. I hope you find this article informative and please Comment and Share!

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2 thoughts on “Theatre Etiquette – Chapter 2: Before The Show

  1. Yolo says:

    Hombre, tienes toda la razón del mundo. Hace dos semanas fui a ver Madame Butterfly: era una presentación estudiantil y no cobraban, pero el teatro estaba bonito y había mucha gente. Y la señora atrás de mi comenzó a cantar. A cantar. Una ópera. Como fucking soprano. Ya es malo estés en Cats y la gente cante Memory, pero ¿una OPERA? De verdad que bueno que escribes estos artículos, porque luego nos pasamos de pendejos…

    Saludos y besos.

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