A complete guide to stage door etiquette at the theatre

Whether you’re a stage door veteran or wondering what the fuss is, here’s a hopeful guide to standing at the stage door.

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

After seeing a show at the theatre, it’s common for audience members to visit the stage door after the performance to try and meet the performers. Going to the stage door can add even more excitement to a theatre trip, from saying hello to your favourite actor to greeting newcomers who may become a big star.

Whether you’re a stage door veteran or you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, here’s a helpful guide with all the do’s and don’ts of standing at the stage door.

What should I bring with me to the stage door?

If you’re wanting to meet a cast at the stage door after a show, you may want to pack these things in your bag beforehand, so you’re fully prepared.

A pen: Bring a pen with you, so you’re not relying on anyone else when you’re trying to collect autographs. Brightly-coloured felt tips will work best here. Before asking a performer to sign something, have your pen ready in your hand so you’re not fumbling in your bag to grab it. You may only have a few seconds with the star.

Something to sign: Whether it’s merchandise you buy at the theatre like a programme, or a piece of paper, make sure you’ve got something for the performer to sign beforehand.

A camera: Whether it’s the camera on your phone or a digital camera, have it out and ready so that you can take as many pictures as you want. Some theatres may not allow certain cameras in, so it’s best to check with the theatre policies beforehand. If you’re going to use your camera, ask whether you’re allowed to use your flash for images.

A portable charger: Actors will not come out of the theatre straight away. Make sure that your phone will have enough battery by bringing a portable charger so you can take all the photos you want.

Will I be at the stage door for a long time?

When heading to the stage door, consider the amount of free time you have in order to meet the cast before you have to leave. Be prepared to be patient with cast members, as you may be waiting for a long time. Although it may seem like forever, performers will be sorting themselves out in the theatre before greeting people outside.

Don’t give up hope when you’re waiting though! When your favourite performers come out to greet fans and you can potentially talk about the show with them, the minutes painstakingly spent at the stage door will all be worth it.

Be thoughtful of the actors while you are waiting

It’s okay to get excited at the thought of seeing some of the biggest theatre stars metres away from you. However it’s more important to respect the actors who have just been working on stage to perform a West End show. Treat performers with the same respect that you would give to a work colleague, don’t scream for hours in the hope that your favourite performers will lean out of a window and wave to you.

While you are waiting for your chance to meet the cast after a show, remember that it is not part of an actor’s job to meet everyone at the stage door after every performance. If you do get to speak to cast members, ask them whether you can take photos of them and accept what they say. There is nothing worse than an audience member complaining at the stage door when a performer has gone out of their way to greet fans.

Try to remain calm and composed. Standing at the stage door can often be crowded, so it’s best to keep your hands and feet to yourself. While it may feel like it at the time, don’t try and push through the crowd to get to the front. Everyone who waits will be able to meet cast members, so it’s best to wait for your turn and take in the magical moments of waiting to see theatre stars at the stage door.

Talk to people around you

It’s unlikely that you’ll be the only one outside the theatre who is hoping to catch a glimpse of your favourite star. Being friendly with people around you may also help you while you’re waiting. If you’re nice to the people beside you, they may let you take their spot once they’re done, getting you closer to the theatre stars you’ve dreamed of seeing.

Be friendly with stage door security

Don’t spend hours waiting out in the cold, clueless and confused over why you’ve spent hours waiting for a cast member after everyone else has left. Although security may seem scary at first, they can be the key to being able to meet actors at the stage door. Be considerate towards security and do not get angry if they say a particular individual won’t be greeting fans after the show. Security will know who is coming out and how long they will be, so don’t be afraid to ask questions to put you at ease.

What should I do when the actors come out?

Meeting actors in the West End can make your trip to Theatreland even more special. To get the most out of your time, here’s what you should and shouldn’t do.

Do show your appreciation for the actor. If you get time to talk, chat about the performance you’ve just seen, or how long you’ve been following their career.

Do say thank you. Performers don’t have to meet people at the stage door, so make sure to thank them for taking time out of their day to greet fans outside.

Don’t pester a cast member to sign lots of things. Bringing many things for one person to sign will irate everyone around you, as you’ll be with one person considerably longer than everyone else.

Don’t try and force performers to stay longer than they have to. After a show, some performers may have to rush somewhere quickly, so let them leave the theatre to carry on the rest of their day.

The most important thing to remember while waiting at the stage door is to be kind, considerate and courteous to everyone around you and you’ll have a great time waiting at theatres across London.

Originally published on

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