There’s nothing quite like attending a live performance at a theatre, but every seasoned audience member knows that there are rules and etiquette guidelines that must be followed during the show. For those attending their very first play, it’s best to get a firm understanding of the expected behaviour before the night of the event. Here are the basic rules to follow.

Arrive Early

It’s best to arrive at least 30 minutes before the time stamped on the ticket. Most venues start seating patrons half an hour before show time and stop seating once the show starts. If someone is late, ushers may require that they wait in the lobby until a break or intermission. Avoid missing the first part of the performance by getting to the venue early.

Silence Cell Phones

Most theatregoers prefer a quiet atmosphere. Ringing cell phones or smart watches sending out notifications can be distracting. Once the lights dim, make sure all technology is either turned off or set to silent mode. At intermission, attendees can check messages and respond to phone calls, but if they’re in their seats, it’s best to stay quiet and pay attention to the show.

Avoid Distracting Behaviour

When the actors are onstage, it’s important to be quiet and respectful of their performance. Avoid whispering or talking to friends, and save any snacks for intermission. While the actors may not be able to see everything that’s happening in the crowd, other audience members sitting can become distracted by constant movement or hushed conversations.

Leave the Camera at Home

Though some performances allow the audience to take pictures, most don’t. It’s a distraction to both the audience and the actors. The house manager keeps a keen eye out for any cameras and may ask would-be photographers to leave.

Applause Is Encouraged

After the end of a scene or song, it’s customary for the audience to applaud the performance. However, new theatregoers may find it difficult to time their applause appropriately. For those that are unsure of when to clap, it’s best to follow the rest of the audience. Clap when the majority of the theatre is clapping, and stop when they stop.

Be Patient at Curtain Call

While it’s tempting to rush to the exit as soon as the performance is over, it’s best to be a bit patient. Let the actors leave the stage before moving towards the aisle. While it’s not strictly forbidden, leaving as soon as the performance is over may be considered disrespectful, especially if the actors have not taken their final bow.

Go Over the Rules with Kids

If a child is going to the show, make sure to go over rules and the expected behaviour of them before heading to the theatre. If they know what to expect ahead of time, it’s less likely that they’ll act out, forcing a parent to leave in the middle of an act.

Live performances and plays are a wonderful way to experience entertainment. Follow these rules and enjoy a night at the playhouse!


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