Baby Booted From Theater Because Babies Are Just as Annoying as Cell Phone Users

Do babies belong in theaters? One outdoor stage venue in Manitoba has said absolutely not -- by sending home a woman and her 2-month-old infant who'd arrived to see a show, based on their strict "no babies allowed" policy.


Mother Olivia Billson says she wasn't aware of the rule, which bans infants too young to sit by themselves in a theater seat, at the time she bought tickets. When she arrived with some other family members to see Sister Act at Manitoba's Rainbow Stage, she discovered that she and her baby wouldn't be allowed admittance. (The policy is noted in the theater website's FAQs section, but it's something I didn't notice while browsing around the ticket sales area of the site.)

I don't think that it's necessarily the case that babies should be allowed everywhere at all times, and apparently no-baby rules are common practice in the theater world. And as I've done some small-town community theater acting, I know how distracting noise from the audience can be to the people on the stage as well as those watching the show.

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But banning young infants from this venue still seems like a strange place to draw the line to me. For one thing, a 2-month-old is still essentially a potato at this stage; if we're going to keep out certain ages of kids, I suggest banning 3-year-olds. For another, a baby who started squawking and who immediately got hustled out of the auditorium was always a lot less distracting to me when I was on stage than the one disturbance that was nearly omnipresent: a bunch of glowing little smartphone-screen rectangles bobbing up and down in the darkness. Or that one person who brings a giant bag of chips into the theater and eats them one at a time, crinkling the bag vigorously each time he searches for the precise chip fragment he wants. (If this is something you do, by the way, you may be unfit for human society. Get your Dorito fix on the way to the show.)

Babies in theaters are annoying, but so are lots of grown-up behaviors, and if Rainbow Stage's policy doesn't extend to showing the door to phone-browsers and chip-crunchers, it doesn't make much sense, especially for an outdoor showing of a family-friendly musical. Distractions are distractions, and unlike the discourteous adults disturbing performers and fellow audience members, at least the babies don't know enough to be able to help it.


Image via CTV News Winnipeg

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