Actors Theatre has long been telling audiences what not to do in our spaces. The same has been true at theatres across the country; as theatremakers, we prioritized quiet over reaction, and restriction over invitation. We developed and, both implicitly and explicitly, enforced behavioral expectations that prohibited the type of deep engagement we want to have with our audiences.
And now, just as collectively, theatremakers throughout the United States are reevaluating; we’re questioning these longheld expectations and dismantling them one by one. Around Actors Theatre, we’ve been particularly inspired by playwright Dominique Morisseau’s Rules of Engagement: “guidelines to help every theatregoer—not just ‘theatre people’—feel at home in the theatre.” Read more here.
At Actors Theatre, we began with investment in sensory-friendly and relaxed performances where the audience environment is more accommodating. Through developing that programming, we identified avenues to making all performances more inclusive. Together, we continue to push this work forward.
If you’ve been to Actors Theatre recently, you may have noticed new language in our curtain speeches, a summary of our organizational Core Values:
Actors Theatre is working to become a brave space for all and appreciates your support in that goal. Listen, learn and engage in this experience together. Thank you for showing up.
We seek to build a judgment-free and inclusive environment where stories, artists and audiences connect: a space welcoming of all people. You’re welcome here, as you are.
With the spirit of invitation, we’d like to offer an update to "traditional" theatregoer etiquette.
→ Come as you are.
→ Feel free to engage authentically. Share in the experience collectively and respectfully.
→ Don’t be invisible. If you’re in the audience, the artists onstage want to know you’re there. They want to feel your connection to the play.
→ Give each other space and understanding. Know that people vocalize and move for many reasons and that we all react to and experience plays differently.
→ There is no dress code.
And in the words of Dominique Morisseau: “This is community. Let’s go.”