Please Enjoy the Show . . . The Trabert Guide to Theatre Protocol

If you know anything about The Traberts, you know that we are devoted advocates of the Arts, because . . . “Without art, we are just stuck with reality.” – Daniel R. Lynch.

Tedd and I try to support as many forms of art as possible, but we simply adore the performing arts; our social calendar is full of performances and artsy encounters.  Over the last couple of months, we have attended the Broadway productions of “Beautiful” and “An American in Paris” at the Adrienne Arsht Center, Miami City Ballet’s Program II – “A Fairy’s Kiss,” a performance by the Fellows at the New World Symphony and sprinkled in a couple of galas to round out our support for the performing arts in Miami.  Since we are so diverse, we were honored to attend “Well Strung” at the Broward Center, with some dear friends, and then jetted off to New York City to see “Carmen” at the Met!

Each of the performances brought joy to my artistic soul, but they were not without their frustrations.  Please let me be clear before I offend lovers of the theatre and the arts.  My frustration was not with the actual performances, but rather, the lack of courtesies by my fellow audience members.

When did going to the theatre become so wrought with disrespect and a lack of consideration for the other members of the audience or artists that people feel free to talk loudly, text, record the show or make other distracting noises during a performance?  Once upon a time, going to the theatre was a prized experience, a social occasion worthy of champagne, sparkling jewelry, fancy clothes and idle gossip – just a few of my favorite things.

Call me crazy . . . Call me an old soul . . . But, I still believe that going to the theatre should be an experience you enjoy in the moment, as it is happening and show others respect by not engaging in a disruptive nature.

Below are just a few of the annoying breaks in protocol to think about on your next visit to the theatre . . . Are you on this list?

Tick Tock, Tick Tock . . . the show won’t Stop . . . (for you)!

I am always appalled by the number of people that stroll into the theatre after a performance has already begun.  I am sorry, but did your ticket say another start time than the rest of us?  To arrive late shows such a lack of respect for the other audience members and performers.  Just because we live in South Florida, Floridians seem to run on a different time table than the rest of the world, does not give people an excuse to arrive late to a performance.  Tedd and I like to have a nice date night by making an appearance in the patron’s club for a cocktail before a show.  This allows us plenty of time to unwind from work and catch up on our day.  Most theatres have beautifully acquainted accommodation, perhaps even a restaurant, that allows guests to relax, get a drink, a little nibble and gossip with friends and loved ones.  The Traberts just love the club amenities at the Adrienne Arsht Center and Broward Center – I can’t pass up the complimentary drinks!  So, make sure you get there early so you enjoy the full experience of being at the theatre.

Please leave fidgety and small children at home.

 I love children – especially when they are the well-behaved ones.  It is simply adorable to see a child all dressed up in their Sunday best with twinkles in their eyes as they gaze upon the grand stage with anticipation of seeing their favorite characters.  Exposing children to the arts at a young age is both educational and inspirational, which can mold them into future artists or performers.  It is for this reason that I highly encourage parents to take their kids to the theater.  (I will never forget my dad taking me to see my first Broadway show, “The Phantom of the Opera.”  I still get goose bumps when I see it as an adult.)  However, if a child is too young to follow along or comprehend the art form, they become restless, start talking or commit the biggest theater crime of all – start crying.  With that said, if you think your child might not appreciate the performance and sit through its entirety, please leave them at home so you don’t annoy other theatre goers and risk being asked to exit the theatre – that’s just a waste of the tickets.

Chewing, smacking or sucking on food or any other item during a performance is really annoying. 

 I can’t tell you how many times I have had someone behind, on the side or directly in front of me sucking on a piece of candy, chomping on food, crumpling a bag or unwrapping something in my ear.  I have no problem with people bringing food or drink into the theater; just make sure it is easily accessible and edible so that you don’t become “that annoying person” sitting by me making a ruckus.  Lord knows I like to bring my cocktail in with me to sip on while I enjoy the show. But I am a quick to make sure that anything I bring into the theatre does not impede on anyone else’s enjoyment of the performance.  It is for this reason that I use a straw with my cocktail; shifting ice makes a lot of noise. Many theaters performances only allow bottled water inside the auditorium so there is no risk of disturbance.  So, please check with an usher before entering the theater to see what the rules are for food and drink for each performance as they vary.

To clap or not to clap . . . This is the question?

I recently had a lady stare me down for clapping during a pause in a performance.  But, I say there is never a bad time to clap.  Without fail I am always that person that seems to clap when no one else does.  At first, I would get embarrassed like I did something wrong; that was before I talked to some performers and artist about clapping.  They told me they love it when the audience claps.  It shows them the audience is into their performance which gives them more energy and creates a better experience for everyone.  So, I say clap on!

Rifling through a purse is more distracting than one thinks.

I must admit that sometimes I find myself envious that women get to sling fabulous handbags around their arms.  Why would I not be?  A bag makes it very handy to carry a multitude of maintenance items for a night on the town.  However, ladies please be aware that when you unzip or unclasp your purse and then proceed to dig through it, in what is mostly likely a failed attempt to find that one item at the bottom of your bag, you are making a lot of noise.  Please save this dire moment for intermission or after the show.  You may even excuse yourself early if you are having a makeup meltdown.  Just don’t but do it during the performance.

Choose your accessories wisely.

Although your charm bracelet might be the perfect addition to your ensemble, the jingle jangle sound coming from it may not be so fabulous to others around you.

TING . . . TING . . . TING . . . CLINK . . . CLANK . . . If that is annoying to read, just think about the sound!

I experienced one occasion when a lady was flailing her arm about and all the while making a ruckus with her bracelets.  She seemed completely unaware that she was making a lot of noise with her bangles. Of course, this was until I felt compelled to say something to her.  I rose from my seat, calmly walked over to her and politely, in my most gentile voice, stated that although I thought her bracelets were very lovely she needed to take them off so that I could hear the performance.  (I might not have been that polite . . . but that’s how I am telling the story.)

Leave the change in your car.

Gentlemen, you are not without annoyances either.  We might not have the bag, but we have pockets.  Items rattling around in your pockets as you shift in your seat or nervously fidget them with your hands as you move about, can be just as distracting as a women and her purse.  Please do yourself and your neighboring guests a favor and empty your pockets of excess keys, change or other loose items before you leave your home or car.

My last and biggest pet peeve . . .

Turn off and put your cell phones away!

I find that there is nothing more annoying than someone on their cell phone in the theater.  Do people really need to record the performance?  Will they ever sit and view it again or will it just be another flicker of time lost in an ever-growing list of items in their data storage?  Must I endure the bright light of a cell phone shining in my eyes so that someone else can record the show or answer a text?  Why in the world would anyone want to pay to see a show only to talk, text or any other combination of irritating actions that take away from the experience of seeing the performance live?  I mean that’s what you paid for – to see the live performance, right?  Then for goodness sakes, watch the performance and GET OFF YOUR PHONE!

There is a big debate in the world of theatre on how to navigate the future of technology as we move closer and closer to a completely virtual and digital world.  Should theaters allow guests to snap, click or record away during a show to increase a larger presence on social media?  Understandably, it raises awareness for both the organization and the show as guests post on social media; however, you also risk taking away from the craft of a live performance by allowing it.  Or, do theaters plant their feet into the ground and hold steadfast that the arts are to be enjoyed as they unfold and ensure that all audience members share in the moment without distractions?  I maintain that a live performance should be enjoyed as such – live and in the moment.

But what are your thoughts?

2017-03-26T12:32:43+00:00

7 Comments

  1. Vicki Rusca March 26, 2017 at 12:53 pm - Reply

    Love your list of annoyances. Agree

  2. Bridget OGrady March 26, 2017 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    Love love love this article Justin! It states exactly what others are thinking. Put the cell phone away!!! So many others need to read this. Wonderful job Justin!!!

  3. Terry March 26, 2017 at 3:01 pm - Reply

    Stand or not stand when someone needs to get by to get to their seat? I always stand. Others do not. Which is correct?

    • Justin Trabert April 3, 2017 at 6:40 pm - Reply

      It is always best to stand. It makes for a quicker and easier entrance and exit to their seat. Plus, I would hate for someone to trip over my feet because they did not see them.

  4. Cindy G March 26, 2017 at 10:10 pm - Reply

    An annoyance I have experienced far too often is people who carry on conversations during the performance. I did not pay the price of a ticket to listen to some dude try to impress his date! Last time this happened, I tapped the chatty guy on the shoulder, offered to pay for drinks for he and his date if they would please take their conversation to the lobby bar. Told them I’d paid a lot for the ticket to listen to the artists on stage, not their conversation. They apologized and said they had not realized their conversation could be heard by others. Seriously? You think no one can hear you? This kind of behavior happens far too often at all kinds of venue’s. When did rude become the norm?

  5. Jess March 27, 2017 at 9:39 am - Reply

    AMEN! We represent the historic and glamorous Colony Theatre which people treat like a rental venue – coming in jeans and sneakers, walking out in middle of performances, being disruptive, etc.. The performances that artistic director Michel Hausmann has graciously brought us to Miami,…we should be ever so grateful and take pride in our theater community which is starting to attract major industry players and audiences. Miami needs to wake up to theater!

  6. Matthew Meehan March 27, 2017 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    Love it! All points I agree with!

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