As of tomorrow I will be officially one week away from "Another Openin', Another Show". It's been a couple of years since I've done a show and I have missed it desperately. I am looking forward to being back where I belong.
I have been acting in theaters for over 30 years. I've had wonderful experiences, and not so wonderful experiences. The company of actors, staff people, tech people together are responsible for what happens on stage. In general, they have a combined commitment to do the best they can, whether it is a Broadway show, a professional touring company, or your local community theater.
During my 30 years in "show biz", I have encountered all sorts of audiences and sometimes I'm not sure that those audiences really understand what theater is. So in case, you are contemplating going to see a show anytime soon (which I heartily encourage!!), here are some things you should know.
You may not be aware of this, but live performance means exactly that...it's live with real people up on the stage actually saying the lines, moving around, trying their best to entertain you. It is not a movie or television. It is not being broadcast from something that was filmed at another place and time.
Nope, those people you see (the actors) are truly right there, creating a reality for you to enjoy....and we can see you and hear you! We can see people coming in 10 or 15 minutes after the show begins. We can see the guy texting in the third row. We can hear the couple carrying on a conversation in the middle of the show. Actors can see if your hubby nods off or looks around and fidgets during the whole show. We can hear you rummaging around in your purse for something. We can hear you coughing or sneezing. We can and often do find all that distracting, annoying, or just rude.
We are up there after weeks of rehearsals, running scenes over and over to get them as good as we can make them. We work hard! We practice dances and songs until our toes bleed or we lose our voices. We memorize pages and pages of dialogue. Truth be told, we love it and that is the main reason we do it, but we do it for you too! An audience can make or break a show. Without an audience there is no point in doing what we do. We love having an audience, but we love some audiences better than others. Here are some things that make a great audience:
* If you find a scene or a line funny, go ahead and laugh....please!
* Tears are okay too! However, except in the case of a melodrama where you have been instructed otherwise, talking back to the actors is an absolute NO-NO!
* Please arrive early enough to get to your seat with a minimum of disturbance to other patrons.
* Most theaters will try very hard to have "Curtain Up" at no more than 5 minutes after the announced curtain time. Please respect that by arriving well in advance of the start time.
* Some things beyond your control can make you late for "Curtain up"! These things happen. The ushers may bar your way into the theater until such time as your entering will not disturb the integrity of the scene. This is what they have been instructed to do. Please cooperate with them.
* If refreshments are allowed in the theater, please keep the opening and crinkling of candy bags as soft as possible. If refreshments are not allowed, please don't try to sneak it in. There is good reason to keep food in the lobby.
* DO NOT bring phones, pagers, or the like into the theater unless they are muted! This is important. A phone ringing in the middle of a dramatic scene from Hamlet is wrong on so many levels!
* If you become ill, or have a need to leave the theater for any reason, if possible try to leave during intermission.
* By all means read and enjoy the program we give you....but do so at intermission.
* Please do not bring young children to a show that is not appropriate for them to see! Many shows are directed toward children, but many are not! In fact, many are clearly adult in nature and children should not be in attendance at all. If in doubt contact the theater before you make plans to attend. The staff will be happy to help you.
* If you do bring a child to a show, please remove him/her from the house immediately if he begins to cry or misbehave.
* At the end of the show (and at the end of scenes) please show your appreciation by your applause. In many cases this is the only payment actors ever get!
There are a few specific things that relate to community or independent theaters:
* If you really enjoy a show, tell your friends! Encourage them to see it too! Word of mouth is the best advertising we can get. This is particularly true for independent and/or community theaters.
* If you feel so inclined, make a donation to the theater. Many theaters are not-for-profit organizations that run on a shoestring. Your financial help can help keep them going!
* If you think doing a show looks like fun, that's because it is fun!! Volunteers are always welcome! There are a lot of ways to help and you don't ever have to go on stage unless you want to! .
* Most importantly, don't go to just one show! Sign up as a subscriber or buy a season ticket, or at the very least come back any time there is a show you'd like to see....and there is always "Another Openin', Another Show", I guarantee it!