Theater Etiquette: Flowers
Giving flowers has been a common practice at theatrical performances for many years.
Although there are many movies where flowers are thrown on stage or a lead actress is given a bouquet of flowers as she takes her final bow, common contemporary practice calls for delivering flowers before or after a performance, leaving actors free to go about their work without the hindrance of looking after gifts.
Kind of Flowers
There is no flower considered traditionally correct to give to a performer. Basically, let taste be your guide. For instance, if the performer is a friend, consider irises or pale roses. Alternately, pink heather and sweet basil can be given for their connotation of good luck. Also, when buying flowers, don't buy too many for the performer to hold at one time. Remember, these should be a lovely gift, not a hindrance.
Traditionally, it is considered bad luck to give actors gifts, including flowers, before a performance. However, this belief is no longer widely held and actors, depending on the theatre, accept gifts both before and after performances.
When to Give Flowers
Most flowers are given to performers on the opening night of a new show. However, this is not the only time that flowers can be given. If you are connected to a performer and see a specific performance, do not hesitate about giving flowers at that time. Further, many theatre companies (both amateur and professional) make a habit of giving flowers to the director and cast at the closing performance of the run of a show to thank them for their hard work.
Giving Flowers Before the Show
When giving flowers before the show, check at the box office about what the practice is at that theatre. Some theatres will allow you to go backstage and give the flowers to the performer in person. Others will require you to give them to the house manager or a member of the stage crew to be transported back stage. Either way, if you give flowers before a show, be sure to include a vase. Most theatres will not have these on hand, and flowers may wilt during the performance if they are not put in water.
Giving Flowers After the Show
If you decide to give flowers after the show, be careful that they do not get injured throughout the course of the performance by other audience members. When the show is concluding, do not rush to the front of the stage to throw flowers at a performer during curtain call. Instead, wait until the performer has come back out and is almost done greeting people to give them the flowers. This leaves their hands free to greet and thank other audience members.