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Theatre Etiquette
at The Redlands Theatre Festival

Going to a Redlands Theatre Festival show is a special experience. One that you will remember for a lifetime. Everyone in the audience has been looking forward to seeing the performance just as much as you have, so it's very important to remember the rules of theatre etiquette. That way, everyone can have a good time.

Going to the theatre might seem a lot like going to the movies, but there is one big difference: the actors are performing for you, live onstage. They can see and hear what goes on in the audience just as you can see and hear them. So, the way everyone behaves at a show is a little different from when they are at the movies or at home watching TV.

Some things to remember:

  • Stay with your family or group at all times. Wait for the ushers to help you find your seat -- they'll want to see your ticket to make sure everyone is in their right place.


  • Don't talk, chew gum or eat during the performance. Everyone likes popcorn during the movies, but in the theater we save the snacks for intermission. 

  • Don't leave your seat until the cast has taken their curtain call at the end. Not everyone stays to watch movie credits roll, but applauding for the actors is a way you can show them how much you enjoyed it. Applause is a sound actors love to hear! 

  • Be polite and attentive. Many people come to see a shows at Redlands Theatre Festival for a special occasion like a birthday or a holiday; you can help to keep their evening special. 

All these guidelines are based on one simple standard: Creating the best experience for everyone, keeping in mind that actors are live and can see and hear you -- as can your fellow audience members. 


How should I dress to see Redlands Theatre Festival shows?

Years ago, people got dressed to the "nines" to see a Show. Nowadays, when everything is more relaxed, so are the sartorial standards for Theatre. People tend to get a little more dressed up on Friday and Saturday nights, with men in suits and women in eveningwear. But for most performances, simple, neat, clean clothes are perfectly acceptable. Even jeans, t-shirts and sneakers are seen, especially at matinees, as long as they're clean and don't have holes. However, cut-offs, flip-flops and bare feet are still NG. Conversely, you can get as dressed up as you like. Redlands Theatre - going still counts as an elegant night on the town and if you like to dress up, your evening in Redlands is the perfect opportunity to put on the Ritz. 

What should I do with my Electronics?

Shut them all off. Period. Turn off cell phones during a performance; if you're on call you can always check with your office at intermission. Similarly, make sure that any watch alarm or on-the-hour beeps are turned off. Don’t listen to a music or play electronic games during a performance. If you're trying to follow a sports game at the same time as the show, don't listen with an earpiece; wait until intermission. Never use our laptop, pad or etc during a performance. 

Final note on this subject: At a Feb. 1999 forum, Cabaret star Alan Cumming was asked if he had any regrets in his career. He answered, "Yes. I regret not killing people who leave their cell phones on in the theatre." 

Can I take Photos during the Show?

No. It's forbidden by law. Audiotape and videotape recording is also forbidden. If you're caught, you'll be asked to leave. Flash photos are actually dangerous to the actors, who may be temporarily dazzled by the flash and step off the stage. Actors will sometimes stop the show if they are photographed. 

Can I smoke during the show?

No. It's forbidden by law. If you light up, you'll be asked to put it out. If you refuse, you'll be asked to leave. 

What should I do if my children get antsy during the show? I mean, they're kids, after all.

If your child can't be still and quiet during a one-hour video at home, they won't make it through a Redlands Theatre Festival show. 

Here are some tips for older kids. Explain "The Rules" in advance: Go to the bathroom before the curtain. No talking during the show. No kicking the seat in front of you. Laughing is OK, in reaction to jokes. Wait until the end of songs, then clap and cheer as loud as you want. 

Parents should bring something quiet to eat -- lollipops are perfect -- for children who get restless. Wrap them in plastic-wrap so the cellophane won't crackle. 

Chronically noisy or boisterous children should be taken out of the auditorium for a "time out." It's only fair to those around you. 

If a crying child does not respond to 15 seconds or so of soothing, take the child out of the theatre area.

Can I talk during the overture and entr'acte?

Preferably not. They're part of the show, too. 

What can I do if someone is being loud or annoying -- without becoming loud or annoying myself?

Start by turning, facing them directly and glaring. This is completely silent and generally alerts 99 percent of offenders that they're being offensive. The next step is a sharp "Shh!" or a sotto voce, "Please be quiet." Do not escalate any further than this yourself. The next step is to alert an usher or the "house manager" and let them deal with the offender. 

What should I do if I arrive late?

Don't push your way into the theatre or demand to be seated immediately. Most shows post signs saying some variation of, "Latecomers will be seated an an appropriate interval." The ushers and the house manager usually work out when the next moment that people entering the theatre will cause the least disruption. Usually this is during a scene break or the applause break at the end of a song. Just alert the usher that you have arrived late and ask to be seated. The usher will usually peek into the house and escort you to your seat when the time is right. There is a safety issue here, too. Plunging into a darkened theatre could lead to a trip or fall; ushers with flashlights will help you avoid that. If your seat is down near the stage, you also may wish to stand at the back of the theatre until intermission. Warning: Some shows, especially comedies, will incorporate latecomers into the performance. Nathan Lane and Bill Irwin are notorious for this. During the run of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum it almost became a nightly part of the show. Note: Please check the curtain times on your tickets! All shows start at 8:30 PM.


Appropriate applause?

Applause is always optional, and up to the audience -- the reward for a job well done. Audiences often applaud at the rise of the curtain, for a set that is particularly astonishing or pleasing to the eye. Many shows now forego a curtain, so the set is in full view of the audience when they enter. But ushers should never "encourage" the audience to clap. It looks like a self-serving move by the theatre. 

Should I applaud when the star makes her/his entrance?

If the star is of sufficient magnitude, such a welcome is polite -- but by no means required. As stated above, applause is always at the discretion of the audience. 

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