Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Theater Etiquette for Silent Movies

"It is the gentleman's duty to secure good seats for the entertainment, or else he or his companion may be obliged to take up with seats where they can neither see nor hear. " John Young
Just in Time for Oscar Week and the Academy Awards
"When you go out on the street, wear an English silk hat, not one of the taper crowned variety popular in the 'movies.' And wear it on your head, not on the back of your neck. Have your overcoat of plain black or dark blue material, for you must wear an overcoat with full dress even in summer. Use a plain white or black and white muffler. Colored ones are impossible. Wear white buckskin gloves if you can afford them; otherwise gray or khaki doeskin, and leave them in your overcoat pocket. Your stick should be of plain Malacca or other wood, with either a crooked or straight handle. The only ornamentation allowable is a plain silver or gold
band, or top; but perfectly plain is best form." Emily Post 
"The fact that slang is apt and forceful makes its use irresistibly tempting. Coarse or profane slang is beside the mark, but "flivver," "taxi," the "movies," "deadly" (meaning dull), "feeling fit," "feeling blue," "grafter," a "fake," "grouch," "hunch" and "right o!" are typical of words that it would make our spoken language stilted to exclude." Emily Post
"There should be no loud talking, boisterous laughter, violent gestures, lover-like demonstrations or anything in manners or speech to attract the attention of others."  John Young
"One who is in mourning does not appear in society for the first six months; after that it is permissible to attend a concert or musical, but not the theater or a reception while severe mourning is worn." Edith Ordway
"But the girl who goes to the theater with a man about whom she knows nothing except that he has the price of the tickets is running a serious risk. She is violating one of the most rigid principles of etiquette and she is skating perilously out beyond the line marked off by common sense. Nearly every man can, and does, if he is the right sort, present credentials before asking a girl if he may call or if he may escort her to a place of amusement."  Nella Henney
"Very young people love to go to the theater in droves called theater parties and absolutely ruin the evening for others who happen to sit in front of them." Emily Post


Nothing shows less consideration for others than to whisper and rattle programmes and giggle and even make audible remarks throughout a performance. Very young people love to go to the theater in droves called theater parties and absolutely ruin the evening for others who happen to sit in front of them. If Mary and Johnny and Susy and Tommy want to talk and giggle, why not arrange chairs in rows for them in a drawing-room, turn on a phonograph as an accompaniment and let them sit there and chatter!

If those behind you insist on talking it is never good policy to turn around and glare. If you are young they pay no attention, and if you are older--most young people think an angry older person the funniest sight on earth! The small boy throws a snowball at an elderly gentleman for no other reason! The only thing you can do is to say amiably: "I'm sorry, but I can't hear anything while you talk." If they still persist, you can ask an usher to call the manager. The sentimental may as well realize that every word said above a whisper is easily heard by those sitting directly in front, and those who tell family or other private affairs might do well to remember this also.

As a matter of fact, comparatively few people are ever anything but well behaved. Those who arrive late and stand long, leisurely removing their wraps, and who insist on laughing and talking are rarely encountered; most people take their seats as quietly and quickly as they possibly can, and are quite as much interested in the play and therefore as attentive and quiet as you are.  A very annoying person at the "movies" is one who reads every "caption" out loud.

Emily Post's Theater Etiquette

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