5 Tips for Theater Behavior

I love the theater.

At one time, I became so obsessed with Broadway shows, I had to swear them off for a short period in order to make room for other formats of entertainment including, but not limited to: ballet, opera, comedy, jazz, museums, sports.

While we were away in Connecticut, I scoured the internet for theaters in and around New Haven. Every theater I found either recently had ended a run of a show or were about to begin one.

As we strolled around Yale, we found the Shubert Theater where, to my delight, we discovered the Yale Opera was currently performing Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte.

Unsure what to expect, and considering the choice to go was random, we went with the cheapest seats available. Our $19 tickets brought us to the fourth floor of the building, to the seats sports fans affectionately call the ‘nose bleed’ section.


I wasn’t too concerned. I was there to hear the music, and experience has shown that you can have great orchestra seats and still end up with a ridiculously tall person in front of you who obstructs your view of all center stage actions.

Whether or not the behaviors of those seated around us was due to our economical seating*, I don’t know, however, I found inappropriate behaviors continuously occurring towards the start of the opera.

*Having witnessed each of these behaviors at some point in better seats, my assumption is the location of our seats had nothing to do with the behaviors individually, and everything to do with them collectively.

This experience inspired my 5 Tips for Theater Behavior:

  1. Keep your butt in your seat
    • Always assume if you can’t see something happening on stage, the people directly behind you probably can’t either. Raising your butt off the seat in order to catch a glimpse only frustrates the people behind you.*
    • *Unless, of course, you are a five-year-old child.
  2. Be still
    • Gosh, doesn’t this sound like a silly tip? NO, it doesn’t. The number of people fidgeting and moving back and forth during this recent show in particular was incredible.
  3. Dress appropriately
    • This is probably the theater faux pas that irks me most. While I’ve come to grips with the fact that we no longer make attending the theater an extravagant affair, let’s at least continue to make it a business casual one. This means that baseball hats, sunglasses on top of your head, bike shorts, tights as pants, flip flops, and so many, many other things are never acceptable.
    • And yes, all those listed I have witnessed while at the theater.
  4. Don’t speak
    • True theater goers know the rule: The second the lights go down, you don’t speak.
    • This especially applies when at an opera. During an opera we have what is known as the overture. This is a piece of music lasting somewhere around 4-5 minutes while the curtain remains down. Yes, there is nothing to see, only music to be heard! It is not a time to wind down your conversation.
  5. Imagine a world without phones
    • I get it, we live in a society where our phones are always on us and, in theory, we’re able to be reached 24/7.
    • Do those around you, but also, yourself a favor and imagine that for the two or three hours you are in the theater, your phone doesn’t exist. You might find you actually enjoy not staring at that blinding screen so often.



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