The Do's and Don'ts for High School Theatre Audiences

With Fall shows hitting stages soon, this repost is more applicable than ever. Being involved in HS theatre is not just about creating art, it is also about learning to be a proper appreciator of it as well.


DO arrive on time. Theaters do their best to start on time, so the least you can do is be there to experience the whole story. Getting there early allows you to sit, get settled, hear the preshow music, read the directors notes, and get into the world of the show. You will feel so much more into the piece that way.
DON'T waltz in twenty minutes late. If you have missed that much, just try and get your tickets exchanged for another night. You won't appreciate the piece nearly as much and will just be a distraction to audience members and performers as you enter during the show.

DO turn your cell phone completely off before curtain, and before coming back from intermission.
DON'T think that turning your cell phone just to "silent" or to a no-transmit or "airplane mode" is good enough. On silent, cellphones still emit and receive signals which greatly interfere with wireless microphone systems used by actors and technicians. Even if you turn off your signal, the bright light from your screen within a darkened theater is yet another major visual distraction for audience and actors alike. So, just turn it off.

DO buy DVD's or photo books of the production if you liked it and if they are for sale (hopefully through a special arrangement with the publishing company).
DON'T take photos, flash photos, or video of shows unless you are granted permission by the director/producer. First off, it is a violation of copyright laws as the producers pay royalties to put on the show. Second, flash photography is (again) distracting, and just plain dangerous. No one wants to see an actor get blinded and fall off the stage into the orchestra pit. And third, there is the combo no-no of cell phone video. That is the "bad audience member trifecta": cell phone + light up screen + illegal video.

DO stay for the whole performance!
DON'T walk out at intermission. You never know what is coming next! The second act is usually more story based since all the clumsy business of introducing the characters and setting up the story is taken care of in the first act. Plus, even if you know the story, you probably have no idea how it is staged, so don't walk out and miss all the cool stuff yet to happen. Also, you already paid for your ticket... you might as well see how it all comes out.

DO applaud, cheer, laugh, cry, and react in general. The amazing beauty of theatre is that it is live! No matter how amazing you think Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two is, all of your screaming won't make Daniel Radcliffe give even more effort to impress you. Live actors feed off the audience. It is instant feedback into how the performance is going. If you love it, show it! Nothing weirder than not hearing applause after a song, especially if the performer actually did a good job. Remember, the live audience is part of theatre!
DON'T be an "inappropriate" audience member. For example: yelling out your friends name, talking during the performance, eating in the theater (especially if the food is "noisy" like chips), going "eww" if characters kiss (get over it), mocking the performance or doing anything that would generally result in a smack upside the back of your head by your sweet little grandma.

DO be appreciative of the insane amount of hours it takes to put up a high school theatrical production. Let's do the math. An actor spends an average of three hours a night, five nights a week, for at least eight weeks at rehearsal. Tack on another hour everyday for memorizing and running lines. Add another five hours to every night during tech week, plus at least thirty hours for costumes, makeup, hair, publicity, set building, painting, lighting, sound, sit-and-sing with the orchestra and so on and so forth. That is 276 hours of work, not counting auditions or callbacks. That is almost like a full time job on top of school work and everything else in life!
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