Theatre Etiquette – Chapter 3: During The Show

So this is the most important part of Theatre Etiquette, and if you think that I was sounding like your mother already just you wait and read. I suppose that by this point you have read both previous chapters: Choosing the Show, and Before The Show. So now you are in your seat (hopefully) and the show is about to start.

The Overture. This is not the case is many shows but if you are watching a good old musical there is going to be one, as well as in many operas and ballets. This is a piece that is not meant for you to grab a seat, or finish your conversation or finish your phone call. An overture is a piece that was written specifically to get you in the right mood for the show. Is the bridge between real life and theatre, they dim the lights so you can enjoy it and establish the tempo of the show. Yes, believe it or not, listening to music attentively will change your heart beat speed, and this will affect how you feel the piece. In any case, weather you want to change your heart beat or not, there are many people that do want to listen to this piece and interrupting it is as bad as interrupting any part of the show, so behave.

Now, to my favourite part. Things that annoy me and many others during the show I’ll try to keep it nice and easy:

Coughing. No, I am not saying you are not allowed to cough, it is only natural. To add to this, theatres are always places were there is a lot of dust accumulated and sometimes dry. In many cases there will be smoked during performances but it is harmless and it is specifically made to not make you cough, but many people do it as an instinctive reaction, so I’m saying this so just so you know and your mind doesn’t trigger the coughing. For these reasons, there are things you can do if you tend to cough a lot. My best recommendation is to have some candy in hand which takes me to the next item.

Candy and Snacks. In most theatres there is only candy but at least here in Mexico there are many many options. Including peanuts, chilli, etc. The clue is to keep it quiet. So please nothing wrapped would be a good idea. So the best thing I find is hard candy that comes in little tin boxes. They usually sell it at fancy theatres but if not, any Starbucks would have some and then you can refill with your favourite candy. I wouldn’t recommend anything crunchy (I know I’m getting picky, so what).

Chatting. Evidently it is not ok to chat during the show. I mean, the sporadical comment is ok from time to time, it is part of enjoying someone’s company in the theatre, but keep short and quiet and don’t make big conversations around it. There will be time for that.

Singing and Humming. No, it is not ok! The only place I would agree if you sing is in Jukebox musicals. Where everyone is expected to do so. (Well, that and rock and pop concerts). It is incredibly unfortunate to see people singing along or humming to a musical, opera or symphony concert. The saddest part is that most of those ‘singers’ do it to show off! Yes! Don’t deny it! Many people wants to show off that they know a specific song and stuff and they think that people around them will believe they are very educated, but not! It is of very very bad taste to do anything like that.

Pay Attention. This most of the times depends on the show more than in the audience. However, do your best, most likely you paid for the show and if not then someone invited you hoping you would pay attention. This means don’t spend the show text messaging, thinking about the future or distracting other people with stuff that has nothing to do with the show.

Intermission. (I’m almost done with this part, bare with me). Intermission is a place to give a rest to the performers and often to do a scene or electrics change over. Audiences should take a break, maybe have a drink or a smoke for those of you who really need it. And then again, we come to the bathroom topic. Go only if you really really need to (you won’t be able to enjoy the show if you count the seconds for it to be over), but if not, don’t make those lines longer. Think that many people really need to go, so let them have their chance and everyone will be able to be back in their seats on time. Many times there will be an Entr’act . Which is kind of like an Overture but after the intermission. Same purpose, same rules apply.

Thanks for reading and later you will be able to read the final chapter: Ovation and After the Show.

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