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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

THEATRE ETIQUETTE and BASIC GUIDELINES for School and Community Theatre Actors

Hey everyone, and welcome to theater is a sport.  Today I wanted to talk about the very important topic of theater etiquette, for those people who are perhaps getting involved in community or school theatre for the first time.  Now, granted, every director may have different thoughts on certain subjects, but I think the guidelines as I have outlined below are pretty standard.
  • Please respect your director, stage manager, crew members, and fellow actors at all times. Be aware of their thoughts and feelings.  (This is perhaps the most important rule I can think of.)
  • Acting is a hard enough job! Please leave the directing/design/stage managing to the people with those jobs. I would ask especially that your refrain from giving your fellow actors unsolicited advice or direction... The director will take care of that stuff. (now, obviously, if someone asks you, "How do you think I was in that scene?", you can give them your thoughts, but don't so in a way that would be stepping on the director's toes.)
  • Remember that you  are part of  a team. There is no “I” in C-A-S-T (although, there is an “I” in director.)   :-)
  • Please arrive promptly to rehearsals. As much as I love the social aspect of theater, it is important to be efficient with time, so be ready to go right at start time.  Directors are usually early to rehearsals, so if you have questions for them, go in a bit early.  Also, if you want to chat with your new extended family (your fellow actors) before rehearsal is always a good time.
  • Please, unless there is a personal emergency going on, silence your cell phones or turn them off completely during rehearsal. (Let your stage manager know if you have to have an exception to this rule). Cell phones ringing (or being answered) are very distracting to the rehearsal process.  I literally have had students rehearsing a scene stop, answer their phones and actually start a conversation, mid-rehearsal.  Did not please me, to say the least. 
  • Please don't chew gum while rehearsing a scene, unless it has been discussed that your character is a gum chewer.  It's a mouth and diction obstruction, and an unnecessary one at that.
  • Please try to keep a positive attitude and stay focused while we rehearse. Sometimes, things may go very slowly with a lot of stops. Please stay focused and on the ready to resume.
  • If you have questions about a note a director gives you, please speak to  them about it after notes are given, and privately. This goes also for any thoughts and suggestions. I am a collaborative fellow, but I don't like to get off-track while I'm giving notes. This doesn't mean I won't listen to your thoughts. I may not always agree with them, and, as director, I would ask you to trust me to try it my way, but I will always listen and consider your thoughts. Promise.
  • Be safe! Don't jump on and off the stage, or put yourself or your fellow actors in any kind of risk at rehearsal (or, well, anywhere). We want to make sure we all stay healthy for the show!
  • If you are going to be late or miss a rehearsal, give as much advanced notice as possible, and, ideally, give that information to the stage manager, and not the director.   
**** Do not take advantage of stage kisses.  Make sure everyone is comfortable.  At a theater I have been a part of for years, there was an actor we learned who had trouble keeping his tongue to himself during stage kisses.  This is very unprofessional (unless the kiss has been choreographed and planned that way).  Taking liberties like that with your fellow actors is wrong, and, quite frankly, pretty creepy.  And, in case you were wondering. that actor, once found out, never appeared in a play there again.
****Please do not make negative comments or suggestions to "improve" a designer's work.  (For example, "That set piece should be painted yellow, not green", or "Man, that costume is ugly.")  If you have concerns about something, please talk privately with the director, or, just keep your thoughts to yourself for the good of the show's morale.
  • When we get to the point of being off script, if you need a line, just stay in place, stay in the scene, and call “Line”, and the line will be provided. In this way, you can stay focused and move smoothly. A lot of people will step out of the scene and make a big fuss (I have done this myself out of frustration), but it really is better to stay in place, say "Line" and then continue. 
  • I know these guidelines may seem many, but honestly, remember, it is called a PLAY for a reason. It is good to have a good, productive FUN time in a TEAM environment!  Do your part to make sure everyone has a great time.
Thank you for reading this post, and I hope that you have found it helpful.

Remember, theater etiquette is important, and theater is a sport.


  1. I'm actually starting my own theatre group atm and i will defs be using.these as guidelines for my group. With my first stage kiss i was insanely nervous and i lucked out with an awesome partner who was very patient with me and i will always use how he was with me as an example of stage kissing etiquette.

    1. Thank you so much! I have always found these guidelines helpful for productions I work on!