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Most of us have visited a theatre at one point in our lives whether it was Broadway, regional, community, or even high school theatre. As patrons, we enter a theatre expecting a great time and a chance to go on a journey with the characters that are being portrayed. However, there are simple rules of etiquette that we should abide by out of respect to not just the actors on stage but the theatre itself.

Turn Your Cell Phones Off
Though there are usually announcements made before the show begins, some people may forget to turn their phones or electronic devices off before a show begins. The main reason for this is out of respect for the performers on stage. The actors and actresses are playing someone other than themselves for anywhere from one to three hours and have to maintain focus on the character they’re portraying. Having an electronic device make a sound or ring an alarm is very distracting to performers and, even worse, it becomes a distraction to the audience as members of the audience begin to look around attempting to locate where the sound is coming from. Besides being a distraction, recording a performance in any manner, unless otherwise provided for by the theatre’s licensing agreement, is illegal.

Don’t Sing Along
You may feel that it’s appropriate to join in and sing along with the performers, especially if the number that’s being performed is injected with high energy. However, you’re watching a live performance of a musical, not sitting in the bleachers at a concert. It’s appropriate to allow the performers to do the job they’re being paid to do. Sometimes, however, there are certain shows that invite the audience to participate such as Hair and RENT.

Respect the Actors at the Stage Door
This is a huge part of theatre etiquette. Heading to the stage door for an autograph or picture with one of the performers in the show is a tradition usually held on Broadway. If you do stage door a production, be respectful of the actors when they come out to greet you. They have just poured all of their energy into performing for you for a few hours and, most likely, will be tired. It’s okay to ask for a picture with them and for their autograph. Just be respectful and don’t invade their personal space. Remember: they have many audience members they have to meet as well.

Going to the theatre and taking in a show is a great experience to have. Keep in mind these simple etiquette rules and you’ll enjoy your time even more.