This week for my Year of Adventure, I’m actually going to go back a year to the end of November last year. I decided to take my daughter and friend of hers to see The Nutcracker at a performance in Orlando. I specifically avoided the “family” show and instead chose an evening show. Because of that evening, I have realized the need for a little education in Theater Etiquette for both children and parents!
Why is Theater Etiquette Important?
Whether you’re going to a school performance of Charlotte’s Web or a Broadway show, the actors have put a lot of time and energy into giving you a good performance. And, everyone in the audience probably paid to watch the performance, and you all want to see the best show possible!
Our experience of watching The Nutcracker was pretty miserable. The show itself was beautiful! But, there was a group of moms and children behind us that really ruined the experience for us. And, unfortunately, the moms were just as bad as the kids. Throughout the whole show, there were multiple conversations going on – between adults & kids and adults & adults! Everyone had food, and no one seemed concerned about how loud the wrappers were when opening and eating that food. At one point, someone dropped a whole package of skittles, which was very noisy, and then the kid was upset about it! We even had one of the children behind us using a cellphone, presumably for entertainment, but the flashlight was on – pointing toward the stage!!
As our children have grown older, we’ve had the opportunity to watch a lot of different shows in a lot of different places. It is a treat to go as a family to watch a great performance! This past weekend we went to a performance of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets with a live symphony orchestra performing the sound track. Prior to the start of the show, the conductor told us that while at most performances they don’t encourage audience “participation”, he did want us to clap, laugh, and thoroughly enjoy the show. I know this is not the norm, but I have to say, it was fun!
6 Tips of What NOT to Do
- Talking – There is no situation I can think of where it’s acceptable to have a conversation during a performance. If you must, step outside immediately!! The actors have worked very hard to put together a great show for you. Respect their time and effort!
- Taking Pictures – If you must take pictures, do so before the show starts or after it is over. Know the theater rules on this!
- Food – Most venues don’t allow food. But, if they do, then make sure you have something that is not noisy to eat or unwrap.
- Bring Children too young for the venue – If you insist on bringing a young child, do them a favor and take them to the family show. The timing is better for kids, the show is sometimes a little shorter, and the whole atmosphere is geared for the young.
- Enter the theater after the performance has started – Ushers usually don’t let you in once a show starts, so make sure you are on time!
- Don’t sing along – As tempting as it is sometimes to sing along with the actors, DON’T! Everyone paid to hear the performs sing, so let them!
5 Tips of What TO Do
- Start local – There are some great local theater performances and shows. This is a great way to introduce kids to theater. The tickets are cheaper, so if you have to leave half-way through it’s not as (financially) painful.
- Talk about what’s expected – Talk to your kids about what proper theater behavior is. Let them know up front what your expectations are.
- Model good theater behavior – Make sure you are showing them what good theater behavior is!
- Be realistic – If you’re child can’t sit through a 2-hour movie, taking them to a theater performance might not be a great idea. Either take them to the family performance or wait a year.
- Turn your phone off – You do NOT want to be the one whose phone goes off during a performance!! Turn if off before you even get in there.
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Theater Etiquette – Enjoy the Show More
By following theater etiquette rules, you are able to enjoy the show even more! So, make sure you are not talking or eating and that your cell phone is turned off! Take your young children to the family showing so everyone can enjoy it a little more! In the end, the behavior you model is what will make the biggest impression on your children! So, make sure you’re modeling what you’d like them to learn.
I hope you are able to get out this holiday season and enjoy a show. Teach your children the proper way to enjoy a show and they’ll become lifetime lover’s of theater!