How often have we seen the person seated next to us in a movie theatre speaking non-stop on the cell phone or another one explaining the intricacies of the performance in great detail or the latecomers falling over us getting to their seats? With operas, orchestras, music concerts and Bollywood forming a part of urban entertainment in Indian cities, there is a need to understand our responsibilities as an audience.
Attire One gets to see the entire spectrum, from tuxedos/gowns to jeans/sneakers at operas and classical music performances. A simple rule of thumb for outdoor events is to 'dress down', while for the opera, classical music performances and ballet, it is best to be formally dressed.
Punctuality Arrive early to find your friends, family and, of course, your seat! Resist the urge to network till the last minute. Be seated a few minutes before the start of the performance.
Tickets Keep them handy and retain stubs until the end of the performance. If you have invited friends who are running late, leave their tickets with the doorman.
Taking your seats Allow ushers to guide you. Facing the stage, move down the aisle to your seat, saying a polite 'excuse me' and 'thank you' to the patrons already seated. Sit on the seat allocated to you and not the one you wish for; this obviously causes a disruption when the person shows up for the seat marked for him. If you need to step out during the performance, do not return to your seat until there is a break. If seated in the premium box at an opera, adjust your seats to make sure everyone gets a good view.
General etiquette No talking, rattling, slurping and eating crunchy snacks. Control the urge to cough; keep cough drops handy. Get a seat near the aisle if you wish to exit several times. If you are allowed to take video footage/camera, do so unobtrusively in the aisles. Turn off cell phones. Share the arm rests. If accompanied by 'little patrons', brief them on the expected behaviour. At classical music performances, if the conductor raises his/her baton, stop clapping and resume clapping at the end of the piece. At the end of the performance, the conductor will bow and point to all the members of the orchestra—this is a good time to clap, maybe even give a standing ovation.
Intermission Great time to refresh and network, but find your way back to your seat a few minutes before the start of the show.
Exiting Exiting a few minutes before the end of the performance to reach the car park first is upsetting for the performers. Avoid stampedes and blocking the aisles by chatting about the concluded show.