Theatre Etiquette Guide

  • When the show begins, all chatting should stop. This is out of respect to the actors on stage as well as your fellow audience members. You can catch up during the intermission or after the show. Remember – theatres usually have good acoustics so the actors can probably hear every word you are saying – even if you whisper.
  • Many people are highly allergic to perfumes and strong scents - please avoid them if you can.
  • Applause and laughter are always welcome, but theatre is a different experience than a sporting even so try to avoid whistling, shouting or talking back to the actors.
  • Many concession stands and bars allow you to place and pre-pay your order for the intermission when you first arrive. This is always a good idea so that you have time to comfortably enjoy your refreshments without waiting in line, fumbling with money and drinking quickly to get back to your seat in time for the second half.
  • If you feel a sneezing or coughing fit coming on, or you find yourself repeatedly clearing your throats – it is considerate to excuse yourself from the auditorium to take care of the problem with minimal disruption to those around you.
  • The crackling sound made from unwrapping candies and mints can travel like lightening through a theatre heard by nearly everyone. Please enjoy you treats and breath-fresheners while the houselights are on.
  • Most seating is designed to accommodate a single person of average build. If you have bulky coats, purses, scarves, hats, umbrellas, backpacks etc., check them at the coat check. This is particularly a good idea if they are wet with rain or snow.
  • Many theatres have limited bathroom facilities that result in long line ups. Try to plan for this by using a bathroom before you come to the theatre – or visiting the bathroom as soon as you arrive.
  • Some theatres provide listening devices for the hearing impaired and booster seats for small children. These are usually limited in number so always arrive early to secure yours as needed.
  • Most theatres offer free programs listing the cast and staff. If you do not wish to take your program home, try to leave it behind in good condition so that the house staff can recycle it for the next audience. Many theatres have drop boxes just for this on your way out.
  • If you are seeing a musical with a well-known score –try to resist the urge to sing along with your favourite song. The people sitting next to you would much rather hear the professionals on stage.
  • At the end of the show, always wait until the bows are finished and the houselights to come on before leaving. Rushing out before or during the bows may save you a few moments getting to your car or transit, but it is very rude to the actors (who are watching you leave). Even if you did not enjoy the show, a polite round of applause isn’t amiss.