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AUDIENCE ETIQUETTE (article first published : 2000-11-8)

Several theatre companies have recently indicated concern at the behaviour of theatre audiences particularly those from certain schools. It seems it’s time to remind youngsters that they’re watching live performers and not TV, the Internet or a CDRom!

Discuss the word “etiquette” in other situations children may be familiar with, such as table manners or being a guest in someone else’s home. There are certain things one does when going to the theatre in order to be a good audience member. See if the children can think of some things that are and are not acceptable behaviour in the theatre, and list them on the board. In her book Theatre Arts in the Classroom (Anchorage Press), Barbara T Salisbury Wills gives these suggestions:

Arrive promptly for the scheduled performance. Take all bathroom breaks and visit the water fountain before the play begins. The show will run one hour and children should not leave their seats unless there is an emergency.

Be considerate of those around you. While waiting for the performance to begin, talk quietly and keep your arms, hands and feet to yourself. Just before the performance begins, usually the lights are dimmed and it may be dark for a few seconds. Show your knowledge of theatre etiquette by sitting calmly when the lights go out. Listening is important!

If you talk among yourselves during the performance, others may not be able to hear and you would miss important parts of the story. Feel free to laugh and respond to the actors however. Show your appreciation for their work by applauding. When the performance is over, wait patiently for our turn to exit. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the performance!




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