I’m someone that goes to the theatre an awful lot, which you probably know as I’ve started writing about it a lot this year. Now I’ve had some really good experiences and some really shit experiences so I thought I’d write a list of what not to do at the theatre.
1. Turn your phone off
Probably the most obvious thing ever but the amount of people that don’t sometimes is ridiculous. It doesn’t even need to be switched off, just put it on silent (yes silent NOT vibrate), put it in your bag and leave it there until the interval! It’s not too difficult to not check your phone. I once went to the theatre with a friend and there was a man who sat on his phone almost the entire time while all his children slept in their seats. It was really weird ‘cos he wasn’t there for the kids ‘cos they were asleep but he wasn’t there for himself ‘cos he was on his phone?
Also do you know how distracting it is not only for the audience but for the actors if your phone goes off? I get annoyed if people go on their phones at the cinema but it annoys me even more at the theatre, it’s one of the rudest things you can do, DON’T DO IT.
2. Don’t talk the entire time
Obviously you can say the odd thing to the person next to you but you don’t need to have an entire conversation about what’s going to happen next or your theories on the show. There’s an interval halfway through for that kind of thing. It’s so distracting when the people around you are having full-blown conversations. We’re not here to listen to you; we’re here to watch what’s on stage! Whatever you want to talk about isn’t that important that you can’t wait until the interval.
3. Don’t let your kids talk the entire time
I’m serious. It’s one thing going to a panto or a show that’s aimed at kids, let them do what they want. But when I’ve forked out extra to get front row seats at a West End show the last thing I want is to hear your kid talking every twenty seconds. Annoyingly I only end up near talkative/annoying children when I’ve spent extra for decent tickets. Whenever I’m in a cheap seat at the back of the theatre I don’t end up anywhere near a child that doesn’t know when to stop.
I like to think I’m relatively tolerant when it comes to loud or naughty children, being a support worker and all that, but I have no time for it at the theatre. The worst time had to be when I was seeing Wicked and my Mom had spent extra to get us on the front row and I was so happy until I discovered we were in front of two of the worst kids ever. One of them kept kicking the back of my seat every twenty seconds and the other kept asking her Mother “Is it finished yet” after every single song. West End shows aren’t cheap, I don’t want to sit here and listen to your kid all night.
Fair enough if you ask your child to be quiet. When I saw ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ I was near two kids who kept turning to their Mom and excitedly going “Wow did you see that?” To which their Mom would kindly respond “Yes but we need to be quiet, watch the show” and it was fine. However when I was on the front row for ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ there was a boy sat behind me who kept talking really loudly about every single tiny thing that happened and his parents just let him get on with it.
For some people a West End show is a rare treat, it might even be something they only get to do once in their lives, they don’t need it ruined by a child whose parents just don’t care how loudly they talk.
4. Don’t Sing Along
I love sing alongs as much as the next person but that’s not what we’re there for. We’ve all paid to see the performers sing, not the random guy next to me. Obviously there’s the occasion where those on stage prompt you to sing along and that’s absolutely fine. But if we’re at a musical and you’re sat next to me and you start singing along out loud I will spend the entire show hating you and wishing I’d chosen a different seat.
5. Don’t leave before the bows
You just don’t do it. These actors have worked hard to put on a performance for you, all you have to do is sit there and clap to show your appreciation at the end. I know it’s more convenient to leave just before that BUT IT’S SO RUDE. If I ever went to a show with someone and they suggested leaving before the bows I would be horrified. Not only because it’s rude but because for some strange reason it’s one of my favourite parts of the show? You just don’t leave before the bows, you just don’t.
There’s only five things on the list and it’s not like they’re too hard, right? Just follow the five simple steps so that everyone can have a good time!