Category Archives: Etiquette

Traditional Playbills vs Electronic Playbills

The playbill is often one of the most admired aspects of the theater. Guests love to enter the theater, get comfortable, get associated with the backdrop, and read what is in store for them. The printed playbill is one of the most traditional elements of theater that still rings true today. 

Legally Blond Playbill

An article by Laura Collins in the New York Times online theater section explains this perfectly.

She explains that when you go to the theater, and your usher guides you to your seat, you almost expect to receive something from him. Perhaps the house doesn’t want the audience distracted? Perhaps they would rather you read about the show after the show?

Maybe this is a money-saving move on the theater’s part, but is this worth compromising our beloved in-hand playbills? It is expected that the audience will tune in to the digital version of the playbill on their phone. When you don’t receive a program directly, how likely are you to do this? And how do you see and analyze the reader’s response?

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“When I admire something I’ve seen onstage, I often spend my subway ride home scouring the artists’ bios, my paper program in full view of fellow riders — advertising that doubles, sometimes, as a conversation starter. But honestly (and I’m talking here about shows I’m not writing about), if the onus is on me to track that information down, there’s an excellent chance I won’t do it. When I turn on my phone, I’ll probably use it to read the news.”

photo of a playbill in hand

We think this is a great point. With a physical playbill, you can relive the moments you saw on stage, and almost continuously enjoy them after the show, just by looking back to the piece of paper. Some people even save playbills as mementos for shows, self-proclaimed ‘Playbill Hoarders’. We know that it’s important for theatergoers to look back on these playbills, as Playbill the company has found much value in archiving their shows in past history.

What do you think about receiving programs or playbills? Do you like the nature of the paper, or do you think the program is superfluous to your theater experience? Let us know, we want to hear from you. Share this blog to your Facebook feed and see how your fellow theater lovers feel.

playbill avenue Q

Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart has been your leading edge scenic design and backdrop rental company for over 120 years! Come to us with your theatrical needs to enhance your production with well over 1,500 backdrops, drapes, lames and scrims to choose from in our inventory. We are here to serve all your backdrop and scenic design needs.

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.