Category Archives: Etiquette

Breaking the 4th Wall

 

red stage curtains

The theater world is full of intricate terms and techniques. These ultimately help actors to perform their roles to the best of their abilities. One term used commonly among thespians is “breaking the 4th wall.” Let’s take a look at what this means, and how these terms help to keep actors focused and in tune with their character.

First, let’s get a visual of the fourth wall in our heads: picture yourself on stage, with the back curtain behind you and the two wings on each side of you. Think of these as your ‘walls.’ The fourth wall would be the invisible wall that connects you to the audience.

acting on stage

We use the term ‘breaking’ the fourth wall when we’re talking about interacting with the audience. Actors almost never want to break the fourth wall unless it’s a clearly defined moment in the script. If you break the fourth wall, this would mean you slipped up, and accidentally came out of character. Don’t worry, there are techniques you can practice to avoid this!

kid actors

Actors avoid breaking the fourth wall by always keeping a center of attention. Some actors will fixate their attention either on the back wall of the theatre auditorium, or on another specific location. Focusing their attention, and acting like they are delivering their role directly to that specific spot helps tremendously.

lights can be distracting

Many things can be distracting as an actor: lights, camera flashes (even though photography is usually prohibited, there are always those few guests) motion, people standing, and loud noises. Not breaking the fourth wall can be a challenge when acting in front of a large crowd, but that’s why actors work so hard on passion, delivery, and attention.

standing ovation

Many of the audience members are really enveloped in the show, and want to be involved with the characters as much as possible throughout their viewing experience. Some guests will try to get the attention of the actors while on stage, wave their hands, or even call out characters’ names (as very unadvised in previous blog, A Guide to Theatre Etiquette). Actors try their best to stay on script, and keep things running as smoothly as possible despite these distractions.

If you’re an actor, there are many things you can do to help practice avoiding breaking the fourth wall. Avoid audience eye contact, and focus on your next move. When rehearsing, and during dress rehearsal even more so, pick your focus point in the auditorium and have it already decided before the show.

Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart has been your leading edge scenic design and backdrop rental company for over 100 years. Planning your next production? Reach out to us today for questions and more information: https://charleshstewart.com/

A Guide to Theatre Etiquette

 

Theater audience

Going to see a theatre production is a favorite of many. If you’re an avid theatre goer, or a thespian yourself, this blog will explore obvious commonalities for you. Unfortunately, some people don’t understand theatre etiquette easily, but this is understandable as the environment is particular and unique. When you go to one production, it’s hard to pick up the etiquette on your first time. If you love theatre, but don’t know how to assimilate with the crowd, check out the list we’ve compiled of the basics.

 

interacting with crowd

Dress well. You don’t have to go overboard, but you should definitely feel confident. Look nice and feel nice. If you’re wearing a hat, take it off as soon as you enter the house. Avoid distracting clothing, and heavy perfume or cologne. Theaters are designed beautifully and regally, so dress like you belong there.A

Sit quietly. No fidgeting, eating snacks, falling asleep, snoring, or leaning your head. If you’re bored or uninterested, you probably shouldn’t be there.

Don’t create distractions. Distractions include singing along, getting out of your seat other than at intermission, and letting a cell phone buzz or ring.

Respect the space of others. Sit respectfully and keep to yourself. Don’t take your shoes off or get comfortable like you’re in a movie theatre. Though you are enjoying yourself too, remember that you are in a professional space supporting a cause.

Be appreciative. This includes clapping only when appropriate, and giving a standing ovation at the end of the production. Only clap or interact with actors when they ‘break the fourth wall’ or, in other words, interact with you.

Actors on stage

Actors and theatre goers will think everything on this list is absolutely unnecessary. If you’re going to a production and want to brief a friend, send them to this blog! If you know someone who doesn’t understand theatre etiquette and needs to see this list in writing, share our blog so your followers can read through. Theatre etiquette isn’t strict without a reason – it creates an environment in which actors can thrive and perform their best. If you don’t agree with theatre etiquette, maybe Broadway is not the place for you, and that’s okay! But when attending a show, you must abide by theatre culture and respect your environment.  

Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart has been your leading-edge scenic design and backdrop rental company for over 100 years. We can help you find the perfect backdrops and accessories for any production. Reach out to us for questions at (978) 682-5757.