Dramatis personae


Going to the theatre this weekend? What better way to escape the winter blues! If so, you might like to slip this very short guide to theatre etiquette into your back pocket. It is a little dated (by around 2,300 years) but it’s remarkably apt.

Don’t go to the theatre only when admission is free.

Don’t go to a performance again and again just to learn the songs.

Don’t take the cushions from your friend’s slave and spread them out on the theatre seat yourself.

Don’t stop others from enjoying the performance because of your constant chatter.

Don’t clap after others have stopped clapping or hiss the actors that others enjoy watching.

When the audience is silent, don’t sit back and burp just to make the other spectators turn around.

Don’t take interstate guests to the theatre but expect them to pay for the tickets. And don’t reuse those tickets the next day for your children.

Don’t fall asleep and be left behind alone in the theatre. (1)

It was terrific seeing an audience of students from English and Drama enjoying this material from the fourth century BC and seeing its continued relevance for modern times. In fact, the highlight of my working week was ‘teaching into’ two courses on comedy and drama run by the English program at the ANU. I was delighted to present a lecture on one of my favourite topics: ancient Greek drama. Collaborative teaching is inspiring and tremendously rewarding and I am grateful to my colleagues, Bec and Kate, for the opportunity.

  1. The guide to theatre etiquette (above) draws on excerpts from Theophrastus’ Characters, numbers 2, 7, 9, 11, 14, 27 and 30.
  2. Header image: Photo of Epidauros Theatre. Source: http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/12/amazing-acoustics-epidaurus-theatre/

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