Welcome to the official Hamilton Players blog: All the world's a stage...

Thoughts and ruminations on all things theater...and then some!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Live theater is a wonderful beast but it is NOT a movie!  The success and pleasure of the experience depends on several factors; the most important being the ability of the audience to willingly suspend their disbelief and get "drawn in" to world of the play.  Any interruptions to the audience's ability to stay immersed in the world of the play ruins the experience and the hundreds of hours that the cast and crew and worked to create their unique fantasy is destroyed.  Having been on the receiving end of having my hard work, sweat, and tears rendered useless by one thoughtless audience member's cell phone ("Out, out damned spot"...brriiiinng, brriiinggg...'oh hey, I can't talk right now, I'm at a play....really?  When?  what did he say?") I have some very specific suggestions to you.  Now these are specific to our community theater:  professional theaters are far stricter.  (For example, if you are late you may not be let in until intermission.  No latecomers will disturb the show.)

BE ON TIME.  Arriving late and having to open and close the door and walk in front of people is loud and distracting.  Professional theaters will not let you enter the house after the show has started.  A professional theatre will make you wait for intermission AND they will not refund your money if you choose to leave because of it.  Plan ahead.  Make sure you have ample time to find parking and pick up your will-call tickets.  Be courteous, be on time.
DO NOT UNWRAP CANDY IN THE AUDIENCE.  Candy wrappers are very distracting.  The audience can hear them, the actors can hear them.  If you have a cold and need throat lozenges, be prepared. Unwrap them before the show begins.  The same goes for any noise making activity…including squeezing water bottles or crumpling paper – it’s very distracting!
TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE.  There is nothing that is more rude and disrespectful than texting or answering a cell phone during a performance.  It is bad enough when it rings and distracts the entire house and ruins the in-the-moment live theater experience, but to answer or text is just plain wrong.  Actors dedicate a lot of time, energy, and emotion into their shows and when you use a phone during a performance you are telling the actors, the directors, the producers, and your fellow audience members that you are rude and selfish and could not care less about their efforts and time.  Turn off your cell phone.  In the event of an emergency page, please exit quietly and discreetly, with as little disruption as possible.  Deal with it in the lobby or outside. 
NO PHOTOGRAPHY/VIDEOTAPING.  Flash photography is especially bad, because the flash is startling and very distracting to the actors.  But non-flash photography and videotaping is also distracting.  There is often a red light on the front of the camera that the actors can see and be distracted by.  Also, holding up a camera or standing up block the view of audience members around you.  Professional theaters will throw you out if you are caught recording the show.  For many shows, it is illegal and an infringement of the copyright laws.  A theater can lose its contract rights if an illegal “bootleg” is discovered.  No contract = no show.
DO NOT EVER WAVE AT ACTORS ONSTAGE.  It doesn’t matter how cute they are.  If they are not in an interactive production that deliberately engages the audience, DO NOT ENGAGE THE ACTORS!  They have worked too long and too hard on developing a character and a show to spoil it for the others by waving to grandma in the audience.  Hugs before the show and flowers after are always appropriate, but save the by-play until the show is over.
SPEAKING OF FLOWERS…it is common theatrical tradition to give an actor/actress flowers after a performance.  Many choose opening night, but others choose whatever performance they attend.  But without fail, actors love flowers.  Directors, Stage Managers, and Accompanists love them too.
Just be courteous.  That's all we ask.  We work hard to entertain you - and for your viewing pleasure:   we are always in 3D!