Today I read an article entitled “An Open Letter To Those Who Leave During Curtain Call: A lesson on curtain call etiquette,” published by Christopher Castanho over on TheOdysseyOnline.com.
Castanho takes issue with audience members leaving prior to curtain call, citing that the immense amount of work that goes into a show should command a respect through the audience’s acknowledgement.
However, he also cites the life challenges faced by audience members following a show: avoiding traffic, getting out of the lot, getting home in time to relieve the babysitter, etc.
There are two sides to every story, but one thing is clear: as a society, we seem to have lost some basic respect for those around us. – Kate Klotzbach
It made me wonder – if you are a performing artist / writer / director / technician / etc., what are some of those “etiquette” things that you wish audience members knew? I’m not talking about the obvious like TURNING OFF YOUR PHONE for a performance, but maybe some other subtle signs of courtesy in the theatre that you feel have fallen by the wayside.
I am looking for your opinions! What are those? What do you want the audience to know in order to be better “final cast members” for a successful performance?
There are two sides to every story, but one thing is clear: as a society, we seem to have lost some basic respect for those around us. What do you think?
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Castanho’s full article can be read by clicking HERE.
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(Note: I borrowed the “Etiquette” image from http://yabba-dabba-dudes.org/node/41)
3 thoughts on “Have we lost our theatre etiquette?”
I guess I would agree that in general we have lost some of the ability to be mindful of those around us. I’m not totally convinced that we are more rude than we always have been. It might just be that technology has both caused some of it as well as exposing more of it, like it has done with so many aspects in our culture.
I would say however that I think the author of of the article you linked in really needs to study up on their theatre history. The concept of the curtain call is not to say “thank you for your hard work” to the performers. It is the performers giving their respect to the audience for showing up and giving the audience an opportunity to show their appreciation. In other words it’s part of the job, which is why showing up for curtain call is actually written into the rules for some performer’s contracts, particularly professional theatre contracts. It’s essentially the classic equivalent of signing autographs at the stage door. A five minute google search will net a good amount of information about the history of the curtain call including chestnut lore of performers who were chased by angry crowds when they refused to show up for a curtain call. Apparently the concept didn’t start till the 1800s and many a performer of the day loathed having to show up for them. And who could blame them, especially if they were not on stage for large amounts of time at the end of the play. Prior to having curtain calls they simply went home early. Sounds like a plan to me.
Perhaps if the curtain calls hadn’t turned into mini performances in their own right (especially in musical theatre) with elaborate staging but were rather short and sweet and to the point people wouldn’t be rushing down the aisles. Yeah there are parts of Europe where is it common for the curtain call to last for quite some time with an individual bows for almost every cast member but this isn’t Europe. As much as audience members annoy me I try to remember that ultimately this is the reason for all the work we do and at least in the professional world it is a big part of how our salaries are paid.
My personal method is just the opposite. I’ll sit around in the theatre almost till they kick me out waiting for the crowd to disperse and then take my good sweet time getting to the car. If timed properly there is almost no waiting at all and you get to see stage crew start their clean up, go to the rest room, look around the lobby, etc…
I guess I just feel there are far more annoying things patrons do at shows than leave during the curtain call. And I also find the rude things people do that affect their fellow patrons around them more annoying than their interaction with the performers. The performers are professionals and should at least expect some distractions no matter how well behaved the audience is. But if I paid for tickets I shouldn’t be subjected to talking around me or people using their phone during a show or coming in way late and then making an entire row of people get up (this is much a house management issue in my book) during the show, etc…
– Dennis Runkle
WAY too many rude people jumping up and heading for the parking garage during curtain call, and even five minutes before the show ends… at Playhouse Square Key Bank Broadway Series! Come on, people, show a little respect!
I don’t know how much time these cretins save in terms of getting to their car and on the road to next destination, but we applaud and show our appreciation thru the full curtain call, and then the shuffle thru the PHS complex and wait in the car until we can pull out takes about 25 minutes, during which we can talk about the show, engage with others… We most recently just took a stroll down Euclid to enjoy the PHS Dazzle of lights and downtown night and it took no longer to get to the car and be out of the garage.
It is time well spent to be able to thank the hard-working cast by staying and applauding right yo the final exit.
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