Theatre Etiquette; Good Manners

A Summer Full of Peaches Theatre Etiquette

This week, Stacey and I went to see the first of many (approx 15 at the moment!) shows as part of the many Edinburgh Festivals. The play itself was pretty good – there’ll be a bit of a post about it later this week – but there was one thing which really tarnished the experience for Stacey and I – and that was our fellow theatre-goers. Here is our guide to good theatre etiquette.

  1. Make sure the performance is suitable for you and whoever you’re with. In the first play we saw, a family of four were sat in front of us. While the father and daughter were engrossed in the performance, the mother and younger son were a nightmare. In between the boy giggling at what really was quite an atmospheric point in the play and the mother shifting her chair so I struggled to see the stage; it was very difficult to enjoy the performance. The show had a recommended minimum age of 14, and even if that lad was over the age limit, he obviously wasn’t interested in the performance, At the end of the day, if you don’t want to see a show, don’t go, and certainly don’t take kids who are going to fidget and giggle their way through it – it’s just rude.
  2. Turn your electronic devices off! Most of us are pretty good these days with knowing that a ringing phone is a big no-no in the theatre, but fair few people just put their phones on silent… A buzzing phone is just as annoying as a ringing one – and definitely as obvious! I’m not even going to mention people who send texts, play games or update their Facebook update – in my eyes, once the lights have gone down, your phone should be off – and it should remain off until the lights are raised again. Be considerate to the cast and to your fellow audience members.
  3. Regarding coughing, sneezing and clearing your throat – if you’ve come to the theatre with a cold, I feel sorry for you – I really do. Once you’ve shelled out for tickets to a play or performance, the idea of missing it due to a tickly cough or hayfever seems ridiculous – but please bear in mind your fellow theatre-goers!  Please don’t spend a whole performance sniffing – take a hanky – and if you’re going to cough persistently, maybe it’d be better to head outside and get a drink? If you really can’t help it – just mouth an apology to anyone who gives you an evil eye!
  4. This is not the cinema, so unless it’s encouraged as part of your performance, don’t snack! People crunching on crisps in an atmospheric scene or sweet wrappers rustling is so frustrating – especially if it’s a particularly emotional scene! Most show at Edinburgh Festivals are less than 2 hours – and have an interval if longer – and you should not need to snack during the performance. If it’s a good performance, you shouldn’t even remember the sweets at the bottom of your bag anyway!
  5. Go to the loo before the show starts. You know you’ll be sat in a darkened room for a period of time, often sat in the middle of an aisle with strangers on either side – why would you want to miss out on the show you’re paid to see by spending 5 minutes in the toilet?! Not only does it disrupt the show for the people around you, some theatres and venues will actually refuse to allow you to return to your seat if you leave the performance space during the show!
  6. If you see a celebrity or famous face in the audience, please leave them alone during the performance! This is especially true during Edinburgh Festivals, where a lot of celebs can be found hanging around a few venues most of the day. Even if they are your favourite actor / comic / writer, don’t speak to them whilst in the theatre – they’re there to see the performance too! If you absolutely have to , speak to them after the performance, outside of the venue – but don’t disrupt the on-going performances to do so!
  7. Please don’t talk! You do not need to discuss plot points with your neighbour, nor should you go to the theatre to catch up with a friend you haven’t seen in a while! Communication during a show should be limited to absolute emergencies and the most hushed of whispers.
  8. Take your seat and sit in it. I know it’s tempting to move to empty seats which have a better view during the performance – especially if you have restricted view of the stage – but please don’t! The more fidgeting there is, the harder it is to get into the performance. Once you’ve sat down, please get comfortable and stay still! If you shift your chair, it makes it harder for the person behind you to see – and then it makes it harder for the person behind them, and so on and so on! Try and find a good view from your seat and then focus on what’s going on on-stage – the people behind you will thank you!


Leave a Reply