THEATER Etiquette

By Joe Ferriero
Artistic Director, West Hudson
Arts and Theater Company


More than 11.5 million people will attend a Broadway show this year. Millions more will be part of an audience in community and regional theaters (including here in West Hudson!). The experience of live theater is unlike any other. Being part of the audience at a performance is similarly unique.

At the theater, actors can hear what’s taking place on the stage, as well as in the audience. When the audience laughs or applauds, the performers know their hard work has paid off. At the same time, they can also hear inappropriate noises and talking – a distraction to not only the performers but also others in the audience.

Working in both professional and community theater for years, I’ve become more aware of theater etiquette. Consider these suggestions when you see a performance:

Any noise or excessive fidgeting is disruptive. Turning off your cell phone is essential. Many are tempted to talk or text during a show. Not only is the light from your phone distracting, cell phones can interfere with the sound equipment. Also, please refrain from taking pictures or filming.

Obviously, one should NOT TALK during a show. A quick whisper, or audible reaction to something interesting is fine (after all this is live theater, not the morgue!), but keep conversations and comments to the intermission and after the show. Another thing: don’t sing along!

Introducing children to live theater is fantastic! But if they get noisy or fidgety, don’t try to quiet them down in the theater — take them out to the lobby.

If you bring candy to the show, unwrap it before the performance. If refreshments are served at intermission, refrain from snacking and drinking during the show.

These tips will surely add to your theater experience, for you and others.

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