Theater etiquette hacks: Make your theater experience more fulfilling
Watching any stage performance should be a memorable experience, that is, if you are able to stick to a few guides.
A theater’s atmosphere is not like a cinema. Although it is a social event, attendees are expected to act a bit more refined and well mannered. It’s not about being haughty but rather it is showing respect towards the craft.
By now, you’re already familiar with the usual theater etiquette that you are expected to practice when attending plays, musicals, and other classical performances: dress for the occasion, do not talk or sing along in the middle of a show, and keep your phones on silent mode. These are things that about every theater in the world would want their audience to follow.
There are other things you might want to consider in making your experience even more worthwhile.
Have a good night’s rest – Modern theaters will always have good air conditioning. Add to that are comfortable seats that may reach up to your neck. And if you are watching an evening performance, it becomes a perfect mix to make you doze off. If it is not you, then you might see and hear someone snoozing at certain times of a performance. It’s annoying to hear someone snoring while in the middle of a show and that would ruin the experience.
Mind you, it is not about boredom that’s causing sleepiness. Instead, one of the big factors is what scientists call “somnificity” where lack of movement can be deemed relaxing and induce sleepiness. In addition, it is also a sign of sleep deficit where your relaxed state can push your body to take advantage of it and rest.
Thus, the simplest solution to avoid falling asleep is for you to get plenty of rest before a performance. If you feel like you’re dozing off in the middle of a show, just move your legs and arms, and shake your head a bit.
Come in very early – The early bird gets the worm. He also gets the best parking slot, gets the best pictures of the theater posters, and is first in line to get in their seats. There are always advantages to being early at the theater, one of which includes avoiding the traffic, both vehicular and human. Ask yourself this: have you had that experience where you waited in line at the parking floor elevator, and you only have a few minutes left before the start of the show? How about wanting to get a quick snack before the show but you can’t because there’s a long queue at the nearby restaurant?
As it’s common for many theatergoers to be at the venue just minutes before the start of the show, the best thing you can do is to just be at the venue at least 1 hour before the show. That way, you can avoid unpredictable traffic and get to the theater with enough time to have a relaxing meal and even freshen up before going inside the auditorium.
Eat before the show – You don’t want your stomach to grumble. That won’t be enjoyable for you. Theater is not like watching a movie where you can eat your favorite hamburger. Most people want to enjoy the ambiance of a theater without the distracting smell of food nor the noise of people chewing.
And if you think you can sneak in food, think again. Most if not all theaters strongly discourage eating in the auditorium. Besides, all that opening of wrappers, the odor of the food, and the chewing sounds can be very distracting to those trying to enjoy the show. Eating before the show can lessen hunger pangs.
If you are hungry but can’t get a satisfying meal before the show (because you didn’t come early), try to grab a small snack. Most theaters have concessionaires. Although a bit pricey, the food there can tide you over till the show’s intermission or even until you have a proper meal at the end of the show.
Go before the show – Isn’t it annoying when somebody asks you to scoot a bit as he passes in front of you to get to the restroom in the middle of the show? What if that somebody is you? You’d be hearing groans from annoyed people trying hard not to miss a crucial scene while moving their feet out of your way in very narrow legroom.
Whether it’s you or someone else, leaving your seat to because you need to go the loo is just as unpleasant as someone eating or singing during a performance. To avoid such from happening to you, do not drink any liquids at least 30 minutes before the start of the show, and relieve yourself just before entering the auditorium. Also, don’t consume drinks that can induce urination, such as coffee, sodas, and alcohol. If you’re the type who cannot hold your pee, choose seats that are very near or beside the aisle so that you can easily leave the theater to go to the restroom.
Choose the right armrest – One of the many questions about enjoying the theater is “which armrest should I take?” It is not a surprise that those who get to be first in their seats usually take both armrests, especially since the seats are small or if the person sitting has a sizeable body type. It can be difficult if you have no armrest left for you to use.
Armrests in theater seats are usually shared, meaning there’s only one in the middle of two seats. As a general guide, you take the right armrest when you’re seated, and you let your seatmate to your left to take the other armrest.
Also, put your bag on the right side of your seat so as not to take up the armrest space to your left. Or on the floor. Theaters are usually cleaned spick and span so your bag won’t get dirtied.
No need to stand up – At the end of the show, you would see many others in the audience giving a standing ovation to the actors. A standing ovation is a long-held tradition especially with renowned performances. After a show, it seems obligatory to stand up to appreciate those who worked hard to make it happen.
But you see, standing ovations are not always part of our tradition in the Philippines. Unless you are watching Hamilton in New York, you are not obligated to stand up. In fact, staying seated and clapping for the actors is just as much a show of appreciation as doing it standing up.
Do not be pressured to do something just because everyone else is doing it. Appreciate the show the way you want to do so. Just be sure to do it in the end.