Thursday, September 3, 2009

Teaching theatre etiquette

With school starting up that means, hopefully, all students everywhere will take a class trip to see a play during the year (if the money hasn't been chopped from the budget).

I found this guide for teachers on the Trinity Repertory Company Web site. It seems like a good way to start a discussion on proper behavior and what makes going to the theatre unique. (And some adults could use this lesson, too.)


  • Speaking to your students about theatre etiquette is ESSENTIAL. Students should be aware this is a LIVE performance and that they should not talk during the show.
  • If you do nothing else to prepare your students to see the play, please take some time to talk to them about theatre etiquette in an effort to help the students better appreciate their experience. It will enhance their enjoyment of the show and allow other audience members to enjoy the experience.
  • What is the role of the audience in a live performance? How does it differ from attending a movie?
  • Why can’t you chew gum or eat at a live theater performance? Why can’t you talk?
  • What can happen in live theatre that cannot happen in cinema?
  • Reiterate that students may not chew gum, eat, or talk during the performance. Please make sure all cell phones and pagers are turned off. Recording devices and cameras are strictly prohibited.
  • If there is a disturbance, the parties involved will be asked to leave and the class will not be invited back to the theatre. Students will not be able to leave the theatre during intermission unless accompanied by an adult.


Jeff said...

Yes! Yes! Yes!

I've had two theater performances in the last year ruined by loud schoolkids.

These suggestions should be mandatory.

Katie Ganem said...

If I ever become a drama teacher I definitely will put in a unit about etiquette. I always wish that more young people would go to the theatre but I can't tell you how many times disrespectful audiences disrupt my school performances.

Esther said...

Thanks for the comments! I think a lot of the guidelines are common sense - I'm sure students realize that they're not at the movies! Still I think they could be a good springboard to talk about what makes theatre different, how anything can happen. (Witness the unfortunate accident to Ms. Cate Blanchett.)

Vance said...

Though to be honest, most of the disturbances I've had were from ADULTS in the audiences and not schoolkids (except one 3 year old who shouldn't have been there in the first place because he was too young but the parents couldn't care less... again... adults). To be honest, usually school kids behave generally okay. It's the ones who should know better that are the worst.

Anonymous said...

My granddaughter's Middle School was taken (just 7th and 8th I think) to see Romeo et Juliet. One of the things they were told was to wear appropriate clothing - not jeans. I think when kids are dressed up they behave better. I thought that was good advice.

Kathy Boyce

Esther said...

Hi Kathy, thanks for the comment! Yeah, I think being dressed up probably does influence behavior. I'm glad your granddaughter got to see Romeo and Juliet in middle school. Hope she enjoyed it!

Esther said...

Hey Vance,

Yeah, I definitely agree. There's a lot of poor behavior among adults. Some of them need an etiquette lesson before they go to the theatre too!