A theatre in Suffolk has introduced a dedicated policy to help control audiences who want to dance during shows.
The Marina Theatre in Lowestoft said audiences were often keen to dance during shows, but that the practice had become a contentious issue among theatregoers, with some wanting to stand up during performances and others believing dancing should banned altogether.
The 800-seat venue hosts a range of productions, including musicals, family shows and pantomimes, as well as tribute acts and other music-based shows.
Operations manager Paul Bain said it was important that audiences enjoyed themselves at the theatre, and that for the shows programmed at the Marina this often included dancing.
He said: “The problem is that our building is quite old and we are limited as to what it can reasonably accommodate. Regulations mean that we can’t have people standing or dancing in the aisles, so people can only dance in front of their seats.
“However, this then presents another problem: dancers may block the view of the person sitting behind them. We have to be considerate – not everyone is able-bodied and some people may not want to stand during a music event.”
The venue has introduced a new policy, in which dancing is allowed in front of seats in the stalls, but not in the aisles, and the first few rows will be reserved for audiences who wish to remain seated. Dancing will be banned in the circle, which is reserved for audience members who want to sit.
The theatre is also seeking funding to install a lift, meaning wheelchair users and audiences who cannot walk up stairs can sit in the circle.
The new policy is listed online, printed on tickets and on signs around the building.
Chief executive Emma Butler Smith said: “The installation of a lift would be immensely beneficial, but the cost and the structural work required is significant. The theatre needs funding to implement developing the building in that way and it is necessary, now more than ever.”
She added that the new policy was “not a perfect solution, but it’s the best we can manage at this point in time with the resources we have”.
“We are, of course, happy to receive feedback from customers on the issue and have this ongoing conversation,” Butler Smith said.