Theatre Etiquette 101: The Magic 5

You’ve never been to the theatre before? Wow with the baguette poking out of your backpack, your constant talking and the game of flappy bird you had during Valjean’s last confession … I honestly would have never guessed!


Theatre Etiquette has taken a dramatic turn for the worse hasn’t it? I almost feel there is a secret club of people who attend just to see how bad they can come across. From phone users to the regular loud drunken theatre muggles – it’s all just getting very annoying now.

Performers are not immune to your disrespect, they just have no instant power to express their distaste for it.

As an admin to a very active Musical Theatre based forum, the numbers of Etiquette based complaints have been on the rise.

So let’s take this back to basics. And do my soul a favour would you? Share this!

1. Phone use – now I have become so attached to my iPhone that I refer to it as wePhone. With it being my connection to business and social media, I am honestly never without it. It’s terrible I know. But even I know to put my best friend down during a show. There is no excuses for it. You display a huge amount of disrespect to the performers and the audience members who are seated near you being distracted by your phone light. Really want to message a pal? Wait for the interval. No if buts or maybes on this… 5 minutes before a show starts, grab your phone and…


2. Talking during a show – this is one that particularly annoys me. I can not stand talkers during shows. I am not referring to the odd ‘wow’ whisper drowned by loud applause. But by the disrespectful audience member who seems to think their conversation is more important than everyone elses viewing experience. I attended Thriller at the lyric theatre two months ago, where a loud abrasive pair kept discussing about a party they were attending after. I couldn’t help but wonder that if they were so excited about this party perhaps they could attend it early and leave. My whole viewing experience was ruined by their continuous disruptions. It all comes down to respect. Performers are not immune to your disrespect, they just have no instant power to express their distaste for it.


3. Singing during a show – (the picture above is also applicable here). We all know some shows invite you to sing along, mainly Jukebox shows, or during curtain call. However even these friendly invitations have their ending. Sorry to be blunt, but no matter how beautiful your voice is, the moment you sing over a performer without invitation – your voice becomes the most annoying voice known to man; and at least 7 audience members want to strangle you (8 including me).


4. Food during shows – now this is one many people have never come to a conclusive decision for. Some believe nobody should even bring food to the theatre, whereas I am on the side that believe if you are eating during an interval I am not fussed. With food actually being served at Theatre venues, there is an indication that this is part of the theatre experience. However keep it to the interval or cram those crisps down before the show starts! Until we get some cemented rules behind this topic, sticking to an interval snack binge seems to be a pretty good compromise!


5. Turning up late to shows – whether it’s your fault, your partners or TFL’s … on the ushers command, get in fastly and quietly. We know you’re late, you know you’re late – heck the performers know you’re late.. so please do us all a favour and get in quickly so we can get back to the magic of the stage. Do not embrace your lateness by entering and moving super slow whilst shouting out to your friends that you can’t see the seat numbers.


Now there are plenty more rules people could think of, most of them somewhere on The Musical Theatre Appreciation Society page… I chose these 5 because I believe should we all stick to them they’ll be massive improvements.

A poll taken on our twitter @MTAS_Official with the results, reflecting Theatre ushers could be doing more to stop bad theatre behaviour.

So next time you’re at the theatre remember the MAGIC 5! (Maybe remind others of it too)

Written by MTAS admin for @MTAS_Official

Twitter: @simplywilly


2 thoughts on “Theatre Etiquette 101: The Magic 5

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