Breaking the Rules

There are so many rules in the theatre. Don’t talk. Don’t check your phone. Don’t tweet about the great experience you are having. Don’t leave the theatre to go to the bathroom. Don’t eat loud food. Don’t applaud at the wrong time. Don’t sing along with the performers. They go on and on! Well, an April Fools joke from last week suggested a solution which is actually pretty spot on.

What’s On Stage, a London-based theatre information website, thought they would get in on a special April Fools joke. Releasing an article titled ‘Exclusive: Les Mis announces pioneering sing-a-long performance‘, they went on to say that for one special performance patrons could suspend all traditional theatre rules

The show would allow an extended period of time between 7.30 and 8pm for audience to ‘take their seats at leisure’ accommodating the long queues at the ladies’ bathrooms and the bar. Full house lights would be turned on for ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ and rousing numbers such as ‘Master of the House’ and ‘Do You Hear The People Sing’ would feature the words on the screen at the back of the stage encouraging audience participation.

Front of House staff will rove the aisles serving drinks throughout the performance. Audience members will be encouraged to tape portions of the show on their phones. And there will be the opportunity for curtain call ‘selfies’ with members of the cast.

Is it just me or does this sound like a really good idea?

I know it was a sarcastic joke from some theatre-traditionalists, but they have managed to combine all the components we love in other entertainment forms and bring it into the theatre. The Sound of Music does a number of sing-a-long performances every year and they are exceedingly popular encouraging people to hit the town in their best lederhosen and dresses fashioned out of curtains to have an interactive theatre experience.

Maybe it is worth looking into a longer seating period to allow patrons the opportunity to go to the bathroom or grab some snacks without the constant fear they will miss the opening number. And would it really be such a bad thing to provide the audience with the opportunity to grab some share-worthy content for their social media pages?

I’m not going to lie. When I first read this article I was doing backflips in my head until I realised it was an April Fools joke. But it certainly doesn’t have to be! Isn’t it about time we put the customer first and implemented some of these non-rule performances for those who don’t want to conform to the old fashioned theatre rules?