Audience Etiquette: Just Be Nice

Audience complaints about other audience members are increasing – many of them about latecomers, excess talking and use of smart phones during performances.

Easy tip: Unless you’re on stage, you shouldn’t be part of the show.

We hope these “commandments” will help remind everyone that live performances have different standards and expectations of audience members.

Remember, we do have the right and the responsibility to remove disruptive patrons from the theater – and we really don’t want to do that.


In general:

• Listen to the pre-show announcements.

• Read the program notes.

•Take notice of information signs posted in the lobby or outside the theater.

• When in doubt, ask the ushers or any Straz Center staff member. We'’re here to help.

The 10 commandments of theater etiquette

1. Thou shall not text, post or talk during performances.
Make sure all your electronic devices that beep, hum, ring or flash are turned off. Then check again. And check again after intermission. Most shows do not allow photography or other recording. That glow as you text or post is annoying to those around you. And don't jangle your bangles!

2. Thou shall not talk during performances.
No one paid to hear you explain what happened or what’s going to happen next. Save the conversation for intermission or afterward. If you think your whispering can't be heard, you're wrong.

3. Thou shall not come late or leave early.
Yes, parking lots get busy and traffic sometimes can be tricky, but arriving late or leaving while the show is in progress is discourteous and disruptive to other patrons and the artists. Plan to arrive no later than 30 minutes before your curtain time to avoid problems. Read our concierge e-mails for notifications of traffic, parking or other potential issues. Stay long enough to acknowledge the performers. They'd rather see standing ovations instead of “walking ovations”. Should a fellow patron need to enter or exit their row in the dark, stand briefly and allow them to pass easily. Don't make them climb over your legs and bags.

4. Thou shall not unwrap your candies or cough drops mid-show.
Unwrap all candies and cough drops before the show begins. No matter how S L O W L Y you unwrap it, you still make noise; it just lasts longer.

5. Thou shall not be disruptive.
Unless instructed to do so by the performers - do not hum, sing along, or beat time with a body part.

6. Thou shall not overdose on fragrance.
Go easy with the atomizer; many people are highly allergic to perfume and cologne.

7. Thou shall not get passionate (except about the show).
Note to lovebirds: Save it for later. When you lean your heads together, you block the view of those behind you. Leaning forward also can block views. And no one really wants to watch your public displays of affection.

8. Thou shall not bring lunch or dinner.
This isn’t dinner theater, although we occasionally do allow some food in the Jaeb – which we sell in the lobby. Picnic before or after, down by the Riverwalk perhaps or eat in one of the three Maestro's Restaurants on campus. Mostly, watch now and eat before or after.

9. Thou shall not forage.
Wait for intermission before rifling through a purse, backpack or bag. Unwrap your candy or cough drop before the show starts.

10. Thou shall not treat others worse than you’d like to be treated.
The Golden Rule. Good behavior and courtesy have not changed. Manners count everywhere.

Still not convinced?

Live performance is truly magical: art created out of the energy flowing between people on both sides of the curtain. When you attend a show – it’s a unique experience. There is no rewind button at a live event. They are once-in-a-lifetime events - no single performance is like another.

Prohibited or undesirable behavior such as taking a photograph or having a conversation at the wrong time can ruin that moment for everyone in the theater. Unlike TV or movies, which are the same on the screen whether you’re watching or not – live performance is directly affected by the audience. There is no TiVO or DVR for live theater. Fellow patrons can't go back to catch what they didn't hear because you were talking, singing, texting, unwrapping, foraging, etc.

Part of your role as an audience member is to care about the enjoyment of others. It’s also helpful to keep in mind where you are. Different situations require different standards of behavior. What is acceptable at a rock concert is questionable at an opera.

Thank you for your consideration.  Enjoy the show!