Dance Etiquette for Dummies: Encore Edition

After my post a couple weeks ago with  some people who can’t get off their phone in yoga class, I went to a show where I got a double dose of inconsiderate theatergoers.  We were in the middle of the ingenue’s ballad when I heard a scrtich scratch scritch scratch behind me.  Someone was actually filing her nails in the middle of the show.  It was like the theater gods had put her in my path on purpose, telling me that my job was not yet done.

Since it would be a three-act tragedy to go against the theater gods, I’m following up on last week’s post about class etiquette with audience etiquette.

Take care of your personal hygiene at home.  Maybe you brush your teeth while watching TV at home, but we’re in public.  Here’s the short list of things I’ve seen audience members do during the show:

  • Clipping and filing nails
  • Flossing
  • Brushing hair
  • Putting on mascara
  • Putting on deodorant

Leaving during the final scene.  Do you just stop reading a book when you know what happens at the end?  Do you stop driving one exit away from your house?  I think the idea that these early rises have this strange idea that if they leave five minutes earlier, they’ll magically miss LA traffic.  It’s not saving you that much time, and you’re missing out on the epic finale number.

Stretch - Bad Theater Goes WIlkes
John Wilkes Booth was the ultimate bad theatergoer: he not only shot the president, he jumped from the balcony and ran across the stage. RUDE.

TURN OFF YOUR CELLPHONE.  SERIOUSLY.  Nope, not to vibrate. Turn it off.   You may think that no one will notice you updating your Facebook status from the audience, but even the dimmest cell phone setting illuminates your face, meaning that you stand out like a lighthouse in a sea of faces. And you’d be surprised how far we can see.

This is my BIGGEST pet peeve about going to the theater.  I get it.  I also think that the zombie apocalypse will hit minutes after I turn off my cell phone, and I’ll lose my chance at getting out on time.

However, by leaving your cell phone, you’re really robbing yourself.  Live performance is an amazing, yet fragile experience.  It can be a transformative, amazing experience if you let yourself get lost in the world that the artists have created, but it is very easy to break that fourth wall.  You’re not only stomping all over the hard work of the performers that you paid to see, but on the impact of the performance for yourself.

So do yourself a favor: put away the cell phone and the nail clippers for two hours of your life, sit back, and enjoy the show.  Believe me: they’re still be there when you get out of the show.

Note: Know what’s surprisingly okay at a show?  Falling asleep.  Performers know that theater isn’t always exhilarating for everyone, not to mention it’s dark, sometimes we’re actually singing you lullabies, and the seats can be pretty comfy.  The biggest faux pas disturb the performance, but so long as you don’t snore to loudly, you won’t attract the ire of (most) performers, though we may giggle about it backstage.

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