Theatre Etiquette



The Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre strives to provide a memorable theatre experience for all, but audience members must help by observing the internationally practiced rules of theatre etiquette. 

Watching a live theatre performance can be very exciting, but is very different from watching television, attending a sports match or going to the movies.  Remember, the people on stage can see and hear you, and your reactions can fuel them or affect them negatively; even though they may be skilled at hiding their reaction. 

Be respectful of the actors and your fellow audience members by observing the general guidelines below:



 Before Arriving

  • We have no official "dress code" for attending shows at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre - most patrons tend to dress in smart/casual attire.  Depending on the type of performance (eg an opening night), you may want to dress up for this special event.  However, we would rather have a patron come in jeans than not come at all out of concern for how they are dressed!  Please bear in mind, however, that hats and large hairdos will impede sightlines for those sitting behind you.
  • Purchasing a ticket is required and it will be for a specific date, time and show.  If you have bought your ticket in advance, be sure to check it when you buy it, because tickets are not usually refundable or exchangeable.
  • Please note that the theatre does not allow babes in arms into the auditorium - everyone entering the theatre must have a ticket.  No children under 3 years are allowed, and we encourage you to bring your children to age appropriate productions.
  • Arrive on time.  At the discretion of the show's Producer, audience members may not be admitted if they arrive after the show has started, because they will disturb the performance for the cast and other audience members.  The time posted on your ticket is the time the performance begins, and there are no commercials or forthcoming attractions!   Plan to arrive at least thirty minutes before showtime, so that you find parking easily, and you are not rushed and flustered, which might affect your enjoyment of the show. 

 On arrival

  • Visit the restroom before the performance begins, and unless there is an emergency, plan to stay seated during the performance.
  • Remember that no food or drink (except bottled water) is allowed in the auditorium.  Also, please get rid of gum before you enter the theatre.
  • Most performances have a printed programme available for sale, and we encourage you to read the programme before the show starts.  You will then have an idea of what to expect in the show, and you will be familiar with the names of and information about the cast and crew, which will make the show more enjoyable.
  • An announcement will be made when the auditorium doors are opened for access - usually 15 minutes before showtime.

Entering the Auditorium

  • An usher will greet you and ask you for your ticket, which will have a row and seat number.  Be sure to sit in the seat you are allocated so that you don't cause confusion for other audience members.
  • Make sure you have turned off your cellphone (silent mode will still cause interference with our sound equipment) and any other electronic devices (except pacemakers..)!!  The light and noise is a big distraction, so please, no text messaging either.  Even your watch that chimes or beeps on the hour is a distraction.  Cameras and other recording devices are strictly forbidden under copyright laws.
  • Pay attention to any announcements that are made prior to the show starting.
  • Please remove your hat if you are wearing one, to allow the person in the seat behind to fully enjoy the show.
  • Do not put your feet up on the seats, and do not kick the seat in front of you.
  • Be especially careful if you have to cross immediately in front of the stage to get to and from your seats, as there are often lights, microphones and rigged special effects along this area.  If these are bumped to face the wrong way during a performance, there could be technical problems and safety implications, especially with pyrotechnics.  Do not walk onto the stage area under any circumstances.

During the Performance

  • Remember that the Overture (introductory music) in Musical Theatre is part of the performance, so be quiet when it begins.
  • Please remain in your seat for the entire performance (or until intermission).  In an emergency, try and wait for an appropriate break in the show - it is rude to the performers and your fellow audience members to get up in the middle of a quiet moment. 
  • You may not notice it, but sweet wrappers make a terribly distracting noise, no matter how slowly or quickly you unwrap them!  If you suspect you will need one, have a supply on hand already unwrapped.
  • Do not fidget, and wait until interval to search through your purse or bag - you may be making more noise than you think.
  • Try not angle your head together with your "special someone" as you obstruct the view of the people behind you.
  • Please be quiet when needed, and don't speak or whisper during the performance. Humming along to songs may also be annoying to those around you.  Often in the theatre we pretend the audience is not there - that is why we put you in the dark.  You have to be quiet for the most part and play along.  However, please do let the actors know that you appreciate the show, by laughing at funny parts, cheering when it's called for, applauding when you like something and even shrieking when you are scared.  Just remember to always respond respectfully and appropriately.
  • Don't put or throw anything on the stage.
  • If you are maddened by a fellow audience member, we sympathise, but try and postpone a violent confrontation until interval or after the show!

When the Performance Ends 

  • Do applaud when the performance is over - this tells the cast and crew that you appreciate their hard work.
  • Please stay in your seat for the curtain call - when the actors come on stage to bow and receive your appreciation.  Do not leave until the curtain call is over.
  • Actors are thrilled when they receive a "standing ovation", so if you want to pay them the highest praise, you might stand and applaud.  This is reserved for the absolute BEST performances!
  • At some musical performances you might hear audience members shouting for an encore.  This is another form of high appreciation, and the entertainers may then sing or play another song, making it a special performance.
  • Please exit the auditorium with the rest of the audience and do not linger behind to converse with friends or wait for any of the performers.  Our ushers are waiting to close the auditorium doors, and you can socialise in our bar area with pleasure.  Performers exit out the foyer area so you will have a chance to meet them there, should you wish to do so.
  • If you enjoyed the show, please spread the word - it is the best method of publicity and will ensure people do not miss out on a great entertainment experience.



Thank you for reading our guidelines on theatre etiquette.  Be assured, we are not alone in this quest - just google the topic and you will see that theatres worldwide apply the same measures.  Help us by teaching these guidelines to children and others who may not yet be aware of the appropriate theatre etiquette.   On the left you will see a summary, as provided by our theatre technicians.  We look forward to seeing you all!