Theatre Etiquette for School Groups

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Dear Teachers

Thank you for choosing to bring your school group to a performance at the Canberra Theatre Centre (CTC). We fully appreciate the administrative and organisational hurdles you have jumped in order to bring these young people out of the classroom and into the theatre.

For many students, this will be their first experience of live theatre, which can be daunting, as well as exciting. To help you prepare your students for this, we have compiled a list of helpful hints to go over prior to your excursion, to enable them to develop their understanding of theatre etiquette.

We have also included useful points for you to include in your excursion preparation.

What should I wear?

Neat casual dress or school uniform, including footwear is required at all times.

What if I need the toilet?

There are toilets for boys and girls at the venue. Make sure you go to the toilet before you go into the theatre. If you need to go to the toilet once the show starts, it is possible to leave the auditorium, but it will be in the dark. There are friendly staff at the theatre, called Ushers, that will be able to assist you in finding your way. Just remember that other people in the audience will be enjoying the show, so please make your exit and entrance as swift and quiet as possible.

What do I do with my coat and bag?

Keeping large items with you in the theatre can create enormous problems for anybody trying to get past you on their way to or from their seat. In the dark, this can be a serious safety hazard. A free cloaking service is provided to look after your items. Sometimes it is easier to leave things in the Foyer where Canberra Theatre staff will keep an eye on them until you come out of the theatre.

Can I use my phone/i-Pad/MP3 player in the theatre?

In a word, no. All devices must be switched off. Even having your phone on vibrate can disturb the person next to you and the glare from the screen can disrupt the enjoyment of others in the venue. Some devices can interfere with the technical equipment in the theatre, causing serious problems for the performance. Switch it off and enjoy the show!

What if the performance allows the use of live-feeds such as Twitter during the show?

It will be clearly announced if this is possible. Please follow the instructions that you’re given at the time. Otherwise: Switch it off and enjoy the show!

What if I want to photograph or video the performance?

Recording, flash photography and laser lights are not permitted in the auditorium. Shows are protected by copyright laws and taking unauthorised recordings are a violation of these laws. Camera flashes can be enough to seriously distract a performer which can cause a major safety issue.

What if I’m hungry or thirsty?

Water in plastic containers are permitted in the auditorium. All other food and drink must remain in your bag.

When do I clap?

Performers generally love applause! Live performance is designed to get a reaction from the audience, so clap, laugh, cry or interact with the performance whenever you feel like you should. If you’re worried about the right time to clap, just wait until everybody else claps. Behaviour intended to cause disruption to the show or the enjoyment of the audience is strongly discouraged. This includes heckling, talking, standing up and moving around or laughing at inappropriate moments.

Can I chat to my friend during the show?

To you, it might be a few whispered words. To the actor or person beside, in front or behind you, it’s a major distraction. Show respect to the performers and your fellow audience members by not chatting during the performance.

Will there be… stage smoke/flashing lights/loud explosions/strong language?

Going to the theatre can be an exciting experience, especially so when some shows feature special effects such as loud bangs or smoke. CTC will have included this detail in the information received by your teacher. Remember, what is happening on stage is safe and controlled and managed by experienced professionals. Check with your teacher or the website before attending the show if you have any concerns.