Posted by: boromax | March 26, 2020

New Wrinkles Journal #18

Backstage Behavior.


[Granted, at this particular moment in time, few folks are caring much about what we do or do not do backstage. But before we know it, New Wrinkles will be back on schedule and THEN we will need to remember our manners.]

Let’s start with defining the term. “Backstage” refers to the environs immediately “behind” the three “walls” not facing the audience. It might also be called “in the wings.” It is probably painted black, and there is probably very little light, which might be blue or red. The corridors that lead to the green room and the dressing rooms are NOT “backstage.”  Those places are OFF stage, or really they have no discernible relationship to being ON stage, per se. If you are still not sure what I mean, feel free to consult Professor Google.


Why is it that we cannot seem to recognize the need to conduct ourselves appropriately when we are backstage?

I am including myself in this question. I know full well the benefits and the hazards associated with backstage behavior, yet I still find myself transgressing. I need to stop it. This piece is as much (or more) for myself as for anyone else.

When I say “Backstage Behavior” (aka backstage etiquette) what am I talking about?


[LOL. I searched for photos to depict backstage etiquette, and all I found were pictures of actors backstage talking and laughing. What’s up with that?]

There is quite a list for how to behave backstage, actually. And I honestly cannot think of a better way to communicate this content than by giving you a list. So, here it is:

WHY ARE YOU BACKSTAGE?  You should only be backstage when you are mere moments from going onstage. Seriously.  If you do not have a cue coming up within the next two minutes or so, you should be somewhere else – green room, dressing room, makeup, restroom – pretty much anyplace but backstage. There is only so much room back there, you know.  Cast and crew members who need to be backstage should not be bumping into people who have no reason to be back there.  In other words, don’t hang out backstage to watch the show.


BE QUIET!!! Do not talk. There is no reason to talk. Let there be NO talking backstage! Whoever is back there with you does not need the distraction, and you should already know everything you need to know about when to go on and what to do when you get there. This is not the time for jokes and last minute witticisms. I know (believe me) that nerves and adrenaline practically mandate blabbing, but you must learn to control yourself.  When others start to talk, silently remind them to shut up.  In addition, the cast members on stage do not need the risk (however unlikely you may think it would be) of being distracted by you, AND the audience certainly does not need to hear you, either!  When you MUST speak to someone backstage, speak as softly as possible.


DON’T BUMP THE CURTAINS!!!  This includes the “legs” or “wings.”  The slightest movement will be noted by the audience.


BE AWARE OF SIGHT LINES!!!  Be sure you know how far you can go before you are seen by the audience.


DON’T MESS WITH THE PROP TABLE(s)!!!  All of the props are in a specific location so that the persons who need them will be able to find their props timely and easily.  If it ain’t yours, DO NOT touch it!  Do not sit on the props table.  When you need props, you should make sure they are where they are supposed to be before the show starts.


WATCH YOUR STEP!!! The lighting backstage is necessarily dim, and there are multitudinous cables, wires, flat supports, and sundry other tripping hazards (not the least of which may be your own feet…).  Please be careful, and watch where you are going.  In fact, don’t be going anywhere backstage that you do not need to go.  Many times you will be in a hurry due to the timing of costume changes between onstage moments. You STILL need to be careful.


BE COURTEOUS!!! There will be times when cast members are changing costumes in backstage areas. Respect their privacy.  Also, get out of their way.


BEWARE THE LIVE MIC!!! For goodness’ sake, when you are wearing a lavalier, be careful what you say, where you go, and what you do. It does not take much imagination for you to understand what I am talking about here.


LISTEN TO THE STAGE MANAGER!!! When the stage manager gives you instructions, especially a countdown, pay attention!  When the stage manager calls “Places,” you should already be where you are supposed to be.


HOLD YOUR TEMPER!!!  If you have messed up your bit on stage, keep your temper, your body language, and your comments in check until you have reached a safe zone for venting.


MAINTAIN CHARACTER!!! Even when you are exiting the stage, the audience is still looking at you. Keep your posture, your facial expressions, and your velocity at the appropriate levels.  Do not start changing your costume until you are completely off.


PREVENT CLUTTER!!! Nothing should be backstage except what is needed for the show. Unnecessary clutter just adds to the tripping hazards.


NO FOOD OR BEVERAGES!!!  Certainly do not bring snacks (or meals!) backstage, and please keep your water bottle out of the way (preferably in the green room or dressing room)!


NO HORSEPLAY OR PRANKS!!!  I am amazed at how honestly juvenile some of us can be – okay, especially a few of us men. We need to save the antics for other times and places, guys.


NO PEEKING!!! Do not try to peek out at the audience. If you can see them, they can see you.  It’s not cute.


To tell the truth, this list may not be complete; but it is close.

Seriously, it all boils down to 1) be careful; 2) be quiet; 3) be nice; and 4) don’t touch what isn’t yours.

Common sense, people. Get some if you don’t already have it.  Walmart may still have some on its shelves, if you hurry.


[Exit Up Right]


  1. What might be a very boring list of Don’ts, you’ve turned into a humorous read, Boromax! And I love your suggestion to pick up some common sense on the next shopping trip. If only it were that easy!

    • Yes, would that it were so easy. Thank you, Nancy. By the way, my given name is ‘Ed.’

  2. Oops! Should be DONT’S in above response!!

  3. Most of these are pretty applicable for life in general, Ed. Good list!

    • Thanks, Mitch! You are right!

  4. Gotta lay down rules so creatives can be free to express themselves safetly.

    On Thu, Mar 26, 2020 at 3:55 PM ~ Trivial Music Silliness ~ wrote:

    > boromax posted: “Backstage Behavior. [Granted, at this particular moment > in time, few folks are caring much about what we do or do not do backstage. > But before we know it, New Wrinkles will be back on schedule and THEN we > will need to remember our manners.] Let’s start w” >

    • Yes. Rules give us freedom to operate within safe boundaries.

  5. Ah, how worthy is all that advice – every point. And how many embarrassing memories does it revive?

  6. I enjoyed reading this, Ed, even though my only stage appearances have been on Speech Nights 🙂

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