No Photography or Video Taping of a Live Performance – Theater Etiquette

Almost all live theaters restrict the use of photography and video taping of a performance.  You will usually find this rule written in the program and/or announced before a performance begins.

Theaters are not making this request to make more profit by keeping the performance a secret from outsiders who do  not pay for a ticket.  They are respecting copyright laws.  Laws that allow the creator of the performance to maintain control of their creative works and make a living with their creativity.

In addition to respecting copyright laws,  the theaters are also protecting the performers from distractions that may cause serious injuries.

Can you imagine having a flash go off in your face while attempting to dance down a steep staircase in a blinding spotlight?  What about being blinded by a flash and not being able to see the edge of a platform you’re dancing on?  It would be tragic to miss the person who trusted you to catch them in a choreographed fall because you couldn’t see.

All of the above, and more, occurred during a show I just performed in.   The violators who took the photos didn’t think it would cause any harm.

The next time you hear, “The taking of photos or videos during the performance is forbidden”, this includes you – for very good reasons.

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One Response to No Photography or Video Taping of a Live Performance – Theater Etiquette

  1. Sarah N says:


    I’m a performer, and while copyrights are not really my concern (half of the shows I perform in are either original or classical pieces, holding no copyright), the blinding flash and the loud “bliiiiipBEEPBEEP” of a camera going off is terrible.

    Especially the flash.

    Oh, and all the glowing faces from the view screens of video cameras (or, more recently, cell phones) makes you all very, very evident.

    Stash the technology and enjoy the show! If you really like it, ask the theatre if it is being filmed. My theatre films many of the performances (with proper copyright dues) and sells copies to the performers. The theatre might be able to sell one to a viewer as well.

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