Theatre Etiquette: Bonkers or Bona Fide?

The Ella Morris Blog

Ella Morris | Monday, October 5, 2015

Theatre Etiquette: Bonkers or Bona Fide? written by Ella Morris for Downstage Centre, published on Monday, October 5, 2015Modern lifestyle gone crackers: Ella Morris thinks there's a time and a place for personal tech in theatre. (Photos: Shutterstock)

Over the past few months we have heard of Patti LuPone’s outrage at an audience member texting through one of her Broadway performances. She was so incensed that she took their phone from them while in character.


Equally Benedict Cumberbatch was also vexed with an audience member who video recorded him performing the famous ‘to be or not to be’ speech from Hamlet.undefined
Is this a case of diva actor behaviour and manners gone mad?

Absolutely, categorically not.

As an actor myself, I know the hard work that goes into putting on a show. It takes weeks of rehearsals. And it’s not just about showing up and having a ’jolly’, there are other considerations too. Learning lines. Finding your character and bringing them to life. Perfecting your stagecraft to turn a good performance into a truly great one. It’s also about keeping focused during performances to ensure that this happens.

Many of my friends have said ‘I don’t know how you get up on stage’. Imagine adding the extra interference of a phone glare or a phone being shoved in your face, (well ok not literally, but you get the point). Scary you might say. Rude I say.

Theatre is a live, in the moment experience. Everything is happening right there in front of you. Why do you need to text? Why do you need to video? Surely that’s defeating the object?  And it’s ruining the experience for others. It’s a modern lifestyle gone crackers. I think it’s great that theatre can be more interactive, for example;

‘Ella Morris was at such and such a theatre watching such and such a play’ as an update on Facebook


‘Ella Morris was at such and such a theatre texting and videoing during a performance of such and such a play’

AND while we are on the subject, I’d like to throw my two penneth in on theatre dress. Dress up or come as you are?undefined

I will always harp on about how the theatre needs to be less elitist and more inclusive. I think it’s lovely to see people treat theatre as their night out and dress for the occasion but on the other hand I think that every theatregoer should be allowed to dress as they want without being looked down upon. As long as it isn’t largely offensive or harmful to anybody. We shouldn’t be judged on status, behaviour or personality by what we wear.

So what say you? Do you have a theatre gripe of your own that I missed?

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