Music. Dance. Theatre. Take your pick, ranging from something classical like the symphony or the ballet to something modern like musical theatre or fusion dance, there’s a world of sights and sounds for you to enjoy.
As you prepare to enjoy this new world, you may ask yourself, “What qualifies as proper behavior in this new venue?” I have put together a passive-aggressive set of (in)frequently asked questions about Performing Arts Etiquette.
1.) Can I bring my baby? No, there are no children under three allowed, pretty much across the board.
2.) But my child is well-behaved, and really enjoys this type of thing. If your child breathes so much as one audible breath, I will beckon the usher and have you removed. There are rules against this sort of thing so that everyone can enjoy the performance. Find a babysitter, or stay home.
3.) That performer just did something great! How should I let them know? Wait. Wait for an appropriate break.
4.) What’s an appropriate break for applause? At the very least, at the end of the movement/scene. (If you go to the symphony, it’s technically proper etiquette to not clap until the entire piece is over.) Regardless, never interrupt the middle of a performance.
5.) But that was really good, and I want to let them know now! And I want to watch and hear the performance, not your laudations. So wait.
6.) Okay, well, how do I dress? While formal is always a good call, simply wearing nice clean clothes that fit you well is perfectly fine. Just try not to overpower the theatre with your Drakkar Noir.
7.) I have something witty to say during the performance! Good for you! Now, keep it to yourself. Either whisper it so that only the one person you intend it for can hear it (and you can limit the number of peoples’ good times that you ruin to one), or save it until an appropriate break.
8.) I have something obnoxious that I want to do that you haven’t covered here! Of course you do. You probably don’t even realize it’s obnoxious. Here’s the deal. 97% of the people who come to these things come to see the show, just the show, and nothing but the show. So do right by all of them.
You are not the show. Anything that you can do that would cause your neighbor to pay attention to you instead of the show is out, and is bad behavior. No noise, no lights, no sudden movements, etc. You know that cacophony of coughing you hear between movements at the symphony? That’s a bunch of people fighting to hold it in during the performance. Show everyone the same courtesy, and maybe you’ll get to enjoy something rare, beautiful, and inspirational. Something like this:
So have a great weekend, and thanks for both supporting the arts and letting me rant!