This time of year there are lots of concerts, recitals and fun events to attend with your family and with that, plenty of chances to show your young ones the best way to behave as members of the audience. It’s a chance to dress up a bit, see something special and enjoy time together, but lets not leave our etiquette at home. Here’s a few tips….
If this is a first visit to a theatre, or if your visits are rare, tell your little ones a bit of what they can expect. The theatre will be dark, lots and lots of people will be there, we have seats waiting for us and we must look for those seats, exciting things will happen on the stage and such. Explain that it isn’t the same as television or DVDs – the people on the stage can actually hear you and they can be distracted by the audience, so we need to show some respect for their hard work. These people are more real (well, they are really right here in front of you), and you might even know some of them, so be sure to pay attention so you can see your friends on that stage!
As much as your little one might need a nibble every hour or so, the theatre (live theatre at least) is not a place for snacks. We might take popcorn into the movies, but generally live theatres leave the food outside. There are lots of reasons for this. Some are to limit distractions of people chewing beside you (generally, there’s no THX sound in a live show to drown out your munching), but many are to limit the mess left in the theatre. Consider that in many theatres the Front of House staff is staffed by volunteers. They are there to help you to your seats and keep you safe in the event of an emergency, they don’t really want to clean up after your meals in the space.
Memories are great, of course, but capturing them on film, (whether moving or still), during the show is pretty tacky. If you really must have some record of the event, then why not offer to be that parent who films it for everyone – make copies after the fact, or if you aren’t technically savvy, track down and hire someone who knows what they are doing to record it for you. Then, sit in your seat and enjoy the show. If you want a photo to commemorate the event, take it after – WITH your family in the shot. There’s nothing worse than a performance where the audience is as fully active with the flashes of cameras as the light show on the stage. Besides, unless you have a super high tech, low light, zoom lens camera with incredible stabilizing functions, you’ll never get as good a shot as the professional hired by the company. Never. It’s just not worth bothering your neighbours at the show. So, put the camera/cameraphone away.
Above all else, make the event fun. Enjoy the show. Ask your kids what they liked. See if they can tell you why. Help them to become critical audience members, so they enjoy the theatre and begin to develop a taste for it. And maybe next year, take them to more than one thing. Don’t save it up just for Christmas. The theatre is year round.
See you in the audience!