Theater Etiquette: Curtain Calls. Rude To Leave Early?

Curtain call for Once. Most are standing up to applaud. Are some standing up to leave?

As a follow-up to the Twitter debate over leaving at a show’s intermission(which began after the discussion over standing “ovation inflation”) Frank Rizzo, the theater critic for the Hartford Courant, weighed in on a pet peeve – leaving during the curtain call. Another debate ensued, enlisting views of Wall Street Journal theater critic Terry Teachout, Washington Post critic Peter Marks and other critics, performers, a prominent artistic director, bloggers, and regular theatergoers.

Frank Rizzo (@showriz): Intermission exits are encouraged for the disgruntled. I’m talking just as show is ending to get a cab or get to their cars
Terry Teachout (@TerryTeachout): Never show your back to the performers. Don’t know who said it first, but it’s good counsel. I can’t claim to hew to it consistently, but I always feel guilty when I don’t.
Peter Marks (‏@petermarksdrama):I’ve been admonished by many on here about the impoliteness of early departure. So I’ve reformed. Somewhat.
Frank Rizzo: I block those who try to leave my row while actors are taking their bows
Jeff Kyler (@JKsTheatreScene): It is rude to leave just before/during curtain call. Especially if it means walking over people to get out. Hate it? Don’t clap!
Jonathan Mandell (@NewYorkTheater): Leaving during curtain call is not necessarily disapproval: Some people are disabled, live far away, etc.
Jeff Kyler: OK, disabled is one thing. But live far away? 3 minutes isn’t gonna change a thing.
Frank Rizzo: They can [expletive] wait 20 seconds. So what if they live far away. Why should disabled be the first to leave? Safer for them to leave last and not get pushed and shoved by crowd.
Natalie Robin ‏‪@natalierobinLD
absolutely rude unless it is a medical emergency. Catching a train or getting to the garage before the crowd doesn’t count
Dee Dee Benkie (‏@deedeegop): After they danced and sang their hearts out – what’s three more minutes of applause? Rude not to stay
Garrett Eisler (‏@theplaygoer): Even worse are the rustlers and coat-grabbers who spring into action as soon as there’s any hint of a denouement
Kate Devine (@luminositease) I think it’s atrociously rude. And in NYC, what do they think they’re going to do – beat traffic if they leave 30 seconds early?
Jonathan Mandell: I live close. For others, waiting 20 seconds can mean 20 minutes and missing train because, let’s face it, theaters are inefficient in crowd control
Ran Xia (@Rhinoriddler): Sometimes people leave before curtain call to catch buses, totally understandable.
Jeff Kyler: If they are late for a train, they should have planned better. It is so disrespectful.
Jonathan Mandell: If we ignore the practical needs of the average theatergoer, there won’t be much of an audience
Frank Rizzo: If they disrupt other people’s theater experiences by their rude behavior, you will lose those good folks
Suzan Eraslan (‏‪@SuzanEraslan)
Oh, barf. Like indulging our egos is more important than being on time to a later appointment or attending to an emergency.
Sondra (@Sondra): You have to cut out early to make it to the stage door if the actor you want to meet leaves very quickly
Frank Rizzo: So Sandra says be rude to actors and cut out of curtain call in order to meet actors afterwards. Strange.
Carli (@CarliFromNJ):
It shows a complete lack of respect for the performers….. If your bus home to Alabama is leaving in 5 minutes and there isn’t another one for two days, that’s MAYBE ok.
Jonathan Mandell: Is it devilish of me to point out that a standing ovation makes it easier to leave mid-curtain call.
@DrHornetBupp: I must confess after several curtain calls of a show I didn’t love, I have snuck out while people were standing. Many do it!
Sarah-Jane Stratford ‏(@stratfordsj): It’s more polite to leave during curtain calls than to sit with arms folded, seething.
Charlene V. Smith ‏(@charlenevsmith): I don’t understand the vehement responses. The play’s over. Go ahead and leave. I’m not in the arts for the curtain calls.
Robert Falls (‏@RobertFalls201): It’s just fucking rude to exit during bows. THEY ARE part of show. Hate production, fine; respect cast.

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

5 thoughts on “Theater Etiquette: Curtain Calls. Rude To Leave Early?

  1. What if I want to wait and applaud the performers but I also wanna get to the stage door first, can I leave during curtain call? I don’t want to miss my chance of meeting my idols?!!

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