I adore going to the theater. Flipping channels on a television set pales in comparison to the experience and electricity of a staged production. I have had the good fortune of attending three live performances this past month, and being out-on-the-town for a bit of culture is always enjoyable. Whether you are attending a local-amateur production, visiting a smash-Broadway musical or experiencing the opera, there are some basic niceties that should be observed to insure everyone is able to enjoy the show.
Arrive Early ~ Plan your time carefully. You should anticipate and expect there will be traffic and crowds as others arrive for the show. Overestimate the time it will take you to arrive. Include time to find your seats, check your coats, visit the facilities and settle in well before the curtain is scheduled to rise.
Do Make Way ~ If you are closer to the aisle, do not get too comfortable if your row is still vacant. The easiest method to make way is to exit the row and allow others to enter. If that is not feasible, at least rise and fold in your chair so that others may pass. Given the spacing in many theaters, merely moving your legs to one side does not allocate enough room for most adults to pass without touching. When you are the one entering, do face the stage while edging down the row into your seat.
Observe Your Space ~ Clearly space is at a premium in most theaters. Do your best to keep all of your belongings and your body well within your real estate. If you have not checked your coat, your coat should not hang over the back of your chair into the aisle behind where you are sitting. Any packages and bags should be placed under your seat, not in the aisle. The allocation comes down to one armrest per customer.
No-no Noise ~ Your cell phone should be off, your jewelry should be silent and you will need to wait until intermission to open that hard candy. Even when you know every word to every song, you will need to save it for the shower. All distracting noises should be avoided so that the action from the stage can be heard.
Eat Outside ~ Plan ahead to have dinner first so that you are not starving during the performance. Or, have a snack before you come to the show if you plan on dining afterwards. Your neighbors should not be subjected to your chomping and chewing snacks or entrees during the show.
Watch Those Whispers ~ Theaters are designed for sound to carry. Do you best to keep your comments to yourself. Whispering to your neighbor distracts your neighbor as well as those around you. Your whispers may even distract the performers.
Polite Pictures ~ It is distracting and can be downright dangerous to see flashes from cameras during the show. Look for the theater policy. Most productions are lenient about snapping shots during the curtain calls. Video taping professional productions is never allowed.
Applaud Appropriately ~ At the end of acts, arias and certain songs, it is quite appropriate for the audience to show their appreciation. Clapping and even shouts of "bravo" are the usual demonstrations. Standing on your chair while whooping and whistling should be saved for sporting events.
Wait & Walk ~ As the show ends, take your time. The entire auditorium will need to empty. There will be those who move slowly and pushing will only make matters worse. You may stay in your seat and read the playbill, providing you allow your row-mates to pass, or you may turn on your cell phone and check your messages if waiting is too difficult for you. Once you enter the throngs streaming from the theater, do be sure to keep moving upon exiting. Stopping once you hit the street only creates a bottleneck for those trying to exit.
As the days grow longer and the flowers begin to emerge from the earth, I do hope you will find ways to expand your horizons and grow your art appreciation with some live theater. From community casts to award-winning productions, taking time to take in some theater is truly time well spent.