National Taichung Theater

The Show Must Go On: A Guide to Theater Etiquette

2016 /09 /22

A gentle reminder: during a show, please show respect for the performers and your fellow audience members by refraining from talking, eating, or using electronic devices that beep or glow.
Wolverine actor Hugh Jackman and James Bond actor Daniel Craig are not just two of the most bankable stars in Hollywood, but consummate theater actors who can keep their cool even when they’re being disrupted. Their joint improvisation created much buzz in 2009—they were in the middle of their two-man Broadway play A Steady Rain when they responded to a cell phone that wouldn’t stop ringing.

"You wanna get that?" Hugh Jackman turned to the audience, maintaining his Chicago accent. "Grab it. I don't care, grab it... unless you've got a better story." Daniel Craig soon chimed in. "Can you get that? We can wait, just get the phone." Neither of the actors broke character during the episode, and the audience clearly approved of their intervention as rousing applause followed. Though obviously embarrassed, the phone owner failed to act until the ringing finally died out.

In December 2014, pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim interrupted a performance at Milan's La Scala opera house to berate a young woman for taking photos. "Signora, I am trying to give you my best, but you have no respect!" For the woman, she may think that taking a photo during a concert is no different from taking photos of her dinner and uploading it to Facebook, but it is more than poor manners. Not only is she infringing on copyrights of the artists, camera flash and shutter noise are unwanted distractions for both audience and performers alike.

The magic of live performances is the fact that it’s live and in the moment—you cannot replicate it nor can you rewind it on playback. Performers on the stage can see and hear you just as you see and hear them, so the underlying principle is to show them respect during entire performance. It’s not hard to be an exceptional audience member—all you need to make sure is you’re not the culprit behind talking and whispering, ringing cell phones, or children running in the hall. So be considerate of the performers and your fellow audience members, and everyone will enjoy the show.

Theater Etiquette 101
- Do not smoke, eat, or chew gum in the theater.
- Turn off all electronics before a performance.
- Do not use your cell phone or handheld devices in the dark as the light is distracting to others.
- Do not take photos or video and sound recordings as it is a copyright infringement.
- Do not run or make unnecessary noises in the venues.