Caroline Hanks-Farmer @Carnfarmer Talks Theatre Etiquette: Where Did Our Manners Go?

Posted on 11 December 2014

You will know that I'm an avid theatre goer and love to enjoy nothing more than an afternoon or evening of live performance. So imagine my frustration when I'm sat in my favourite show and the person next to me starts to, rather loudly, eat a boiled sweet?


No problem I think to myself it'll be finished soon - the sweet not the show - and indeed it was. However the gentleman then spent the next act playing with the crackly wrapper. This was exceedingly annoying and prompted me to ask myself - when did our consideration for fellow theatre goers go out of the window?

Tickets are expensive and in most cases a luxury item. So why would you not want to avidly watch the people performing in front of you, drinking in the atmosphere and absorbing the amazing feat of a live spectacle in front of your eyes.

I posed the question on Twitter and horror stories such as people using phones or iPads, putting their feet up on the stage, whilst sat in the front row, during the actual performance, breaking out in a fight, talking loudly and general inconsideration for the rest of the audience.

However it doesn't just stop there. I have also seen reports of people when airing politely their views on such behaviours, having then become the victims of verbal abuse and in one instance even physical.

What happened to mutual respect and appreciation for fellow audience members, cast, crew, the beautiful theatre's that we all save up for, and to go to be entertained?

I know I'm not alone in doing some really basic things before I even step inside a theatre and most people would probably think I'm over the top in doing these things. However I still do them to make sure I do not infringe on anyone else's enjoyment?

Having long hair I ensure it is not in style on that day that will obscure people's view. If I'm wearing a hat I remove it before I take to my seat. I make sure I carry water if I have a tickle in my throat and if I was really suffering from a winter cold or felt I could be contagious I would try and reschedule my visit.

After I take to my seat. I switch my phone off, placing my water, having unscrewed the top first, in an accessible position in case of need and I'm ready to be entertained and to enjoy the whole experience.

Now I don't expect others to go to such extremes but I do expect courtesy to be shown to their fellow audience, the theatre staff and the cast before them.

Is it just an age thing that I'm getting more intolerant? Or is it a simple case of manners being left at home? I'm not asking for much just to have an experience that I have saved my hard earned cash to enjoy.

I'm curious at what you think and I'm interested to hear if I'm asking for too much in these modern, fast paced, social media times so please feel free to comment on this when it's tweeted or tweet to me @Carnfarmer. My question is simple: Is the length of a show or act really to long to be either incommunicado and socially aware or have our manners and theatre etiquette been left at home? 

By Caroline Hanks-Farmer @Carnfarmer