Theater Information and Etiquette Study Guide

On Performance Day – Information for Teachers and Other Adult Escorts

The Olympia Junior Programs volunteers have developed certain procedures and rules they ask you to follow in order to facilitate maximum safety and efficiency in moving hundreds of students in and out of the theater.

If you have a student with special needs, contact Olympia Junior Programs as early in the season as possible. That student may not be able to sit with the class, but an adult escort and a student friend can be seated with the special needs student.

Students are escorted into the theater and seated in the order in which buses arrive. Please don’t try to enter the theater before the Olympia Junior Programs ushers are ready to escort your class from the bus. Follow your usher! Listen to his/her directions.

School classes are seated in the theater according to a prearranged seating chart. Seating assignments are rotated from year-to-year. Don’t assume that one area of the theater is better than another – “better seating” changes with each play.

The volunteer ushers at the theater on performance day are trained to seat your class in its assigned place. If you have questions about seating, first allow your class to be seated by the usher, then speak to the usher about your problem.

The volunteer ushers who help with your school classes will escort any child who needs to use the restroom during the performance, will stay with that child, and return the child to his/her seat.

If your group is arriving at the performance by car or on foot, please arrange ahead of time for your group to assemble at the park on the corner, then walk as an orderly group to the Washington Center. When your group arrives in front of Washington Center, don’t walk through or push in front of the lines of children who are filing into the theater. Speak to one of the OJP sidewalk ushers, let them know the name of your group, and then wait for your group to be ushered into the theater.

Emergency Procedures

In an emergency Olympia Junior Programs personnel, ushers, teachers and students must follow the directions of the Washington Center House Manager and staff. In case of fire, everyone will be dismissed to congregate across the street at Sylvester Park. In case of an earthquake, everyone will remain in the theater until Washington Center staff determines that it is safe to leave.

Teaching Your Students About Theater Etiquette

Etiquette is about rules for correct behavior in social situations. If we all know the rules of behavior for a social situation we have the tools we need for a pleasant, comfortable, and safe group experience. We all know what is expected of us and what we can reasonably expect from others.

Etiquette is not about “phony behavior” or unreasonable demands. Its purpose is to help us be courteous and to live together in peace and respect. The manners your students learn while attending Olympia Junior programs performances are the same manners they will use at other cultural events throughout their lives.

Etiquette Rules for Olympia Junior Programs Performances

Do not bring food, drink, candy, or gum in the theater.

Tie your shoes. Dangling shoelaces on the stairs are a hazard.

Don’t wear a hat.

Cameras and recording equipment of any kind is not allowed. The plays are copyrighted material. It is illegal to photograph or tape without permission.

Please turn off cell phones and pagers.

Stay with your class; walk in and out of the theater in an orderly line, following an usher.

Talk quietly once you are seated and waiting for the performance to begin.

Your feet don’t belong on railings, your seat, or on the seat in front of you.

Don’t talk during the performance.

Spontaneous laughter, applause, and gasps of surprise are welcome at the theater as a part of the connection between the actors and the audience. Shouts, loud comments, or other loud noises are rude and distracting to the actors and to the audience around you.

If you must enter or exit your seat while the rest of the class is seated, quietly say “Excuse me,” then face towards the front, press closely against the backs of the seats in front of you, and move along the row to the aisle. Remember, every second that you are standing, you are distracting those around you. Open and close the theater doors very quietly.

After an Olympia Junior Programs performance the actors often will stand in the lobby of the theater and greet you as you leave. You will not have time to stop and talk, but please feel free to say hello or make a brief comment to the actors such as “Thanks, it was a great play!” Or just smile and wave!

Annotated Etiquette Reading References for Teachers and Parents

Best, Miss Alyse. Miss Best’s Etiquette for Young People. Portland, Oregon: PEP Press, 1990. (Library call # J395.122 BEST 1990) Easy ading (third grade level?). Simple strategies for mannerly behavior at home and in public. Role-playing exercises. No specific theater etiquette. 137 pages.

Packer, Alex J. Ph.D. How Rude! The Teenager’s Guide to Good Manners, Proper Behavior and Not Grossing People Out. Ed. by Pamela Espeland. Minneapolis, Minn: free spirit publishing, 1997. (Library call # 395.123 Packer 1997) Everything from knowing when to clap (or not clap) at the symphony to eating dinner at a friend’s home. Easy, fun reading, this is an etiquette book that preteens, teens, and young adults will actually read and learn from. Humorous, practical, and humane. 463 pages.

Revised Jan. 2003

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