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?




Filed under Chicago Dramatists

3 responses to “a lesson in etiquette

  1. Maria

    Rude people in a Theater are not evry common in Chicago but they do exist, unfortunately.

    I have had two bad experiences in Chicago. Several years ago during a performance of Annie a young couple decided it was a good idea to bring a less than 3 year old child to the performance and, as soon as the lights went down, said child started crying and whining…. it was a very long first act, since I was trapped in the middle of the row and unable to get an usher’s attention. Back then I was not as bold as I am today and I did not complain, but I should have.

    Then, more recently, a young lady was texting during the whole first act of Legally Blonde. Not only texting, but holding the I-phone at eye level, it was like having a spotlight shining on the right side of my face. A quick talk to an usher during intermission took care of the problem, though.

    I have been going to plays in Chicago for many years and those are the only two incidents that I can recall. Like I say, not many, but they do happen, unfortunately.

  2. Victoria

    I had a very dear friend who was a concert pianist. Marian had absolutely no qualms about stopping dead in the middle of a recital, put her hands in her lap, and wait, usually accompanied by a somewhat-exagerated sigh, when audience members were being rude. And she really let people around her have it in a theatre! I learned everything I know about shutting up rude audience members from Marion (first the steely glare, then the glare plus a lean, then speaking directly to the offender). And woe betide the person wearing jangly jewelry!

    Personally, I blame television; we are so accustomed to being in our living rooms and casually sharing observations with whomever is next to us on the sofa, that when we get to any kind of theatre, we forget there are others who might not care what we think…

  3. Mike S.

    This reminds me of Patti lupone stopping the show.

    dont the actors get in trouble from like equity for doing that? lol thats still awesome. sad that peoples performances were kind of ruined tho.

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