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a lesson in etiquette

We are so proud of our friends at Chicago Dramatists! A STEADY RAIN just opened on Broadway starring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig, and it began right here in Chicago. But the story of the week is that Hugh Jackman stopped a performance this week because a woman who arrived late was complaining loudly at the back of the theatre that she couldn’t immediately take her seat due to seating hold. According to this blog post from Rolando Teco at Extra Criticum, Mr. Jackman stopped the performance and said,

“Excuse me, but you know, I can hear you up here. Are you finished? If you have a story you think is more interesting, by all means, we can wait.”

This is one thing that has never happened to us! Maybe Chicago audiences are more polite but it reminded me that people do sometimes forget that the audience is most important to the show – they have their parts to play just like the actors. Here is a little guide to what the audience is responsible for that might have helped the patron on Broadway:

  • Arrive on time because many shows have a seating hold as not to disturb the performance. This is for the benefit of everyone in the theatre.
  • Do not talk in the theatre during the performance (not to the usher, your seatmates or on your cell phone)
  • Remember that even when your cell phone is on vibrate, your screen is still quite bright when the rest of the theater is dark.
  • Do not sing along with the actors no matter how talented you may believe that you are.
  • Photography is generally forbidden in the theater. Once you are in the auditorium, put your camera and camera phones away.
  • Do enjoy yourself and clap and cheer wildly when you love what you see – it is a gift to see a live performance and a treat to share it in a room full of people who are just as much a part of the process as the performers.

Have you ever been to a performance that was stopped by the actors on stage? Any other etiquette suggestions?