Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Respect and Cell Phones

As many of you know, one of my pet peeves is cell phones being left on during performances .. Or worse yet being talked on ... or someone sending text messages. We all see the glow of the screen - you're not being discrete, trust me, you think you are but it's impossible for the rest of us to not notice.

It's disrespectful to the rest of the audience and to the performers.

It boggles my mind - why spend $10 or $20 or even $100 on a ticket and then spend the time on the phone? Theater is an escape vehicle for me, so I disconnect completely from technology. I want to be completely focused on the experience.

So what prompted this rant? Vinny Alexander's article - in which he takes a bunch of students to see the Crucible and the following is the result ...

"My colleagues and I took 150 high school students to see Arthur Miller's play "The Crucible" at The Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck. Our English department spends a lot of time studying the works of Miller and we were excited about the opportunity to see one of his most important works staged.

In my opinion, "The Crucible" is a tough piece to perform because of the language and the emotional intensity. I was impressed with the cast and enjoyed watching the play.

Unfortunately, at intermission, the house manager presented me with a handful of cell phones and reported a number of my students were on their phones during the show.

My heart sank.

I was embarrassed and extremely disappointed. The students in attendance were students of theater and literature. They know how to behave. We also asked them to turn off their phones when they entered the theater. What went wrong?" (read more)

Why? It happens in community theater, it happens on Broadway -Why are people so rude?
I'll leave you with this quote "Whatever happened to fair dealing, And pure ethics, And nice manners? Why is it everyone now is a pain in the ass? Whatever happened to class?"


Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...


By now, you probably can guess that I've let out a huge groan in disappointment that people need to be watched lest they ruin the theatrical experience for others.

A couple weeks ago when I went back to see August: Osage County, I was stunned by the number of BlackBerry lights still lit up as the theatre lights had dimmed for the second act. And they didn't go off until the folks directly behind them had to say something.

What is it with people and their self-absorbed importance and/or lack of self-awareness?! Thanks for keeping the issue of theatre etiquette alive!

kat said...

Oh this touches a major nerve since I was part of the cast that this writer was talkinga about. Sadly a week before this particular performance, we had students in who were playing video games during the show. Playing on their PS2's and so forth. During the Q&A that followed I made sure to bring it up, and made sure to keep eye contact with the students who were playing games while we were suffering the witch trials.

So pathetic.

More pathetic, they had an interview with young people today on the news... 18-24 year olds... about why there was such a small turnout for the primary elections. The resounding answer was "if I could vote online I would be more interested in voting". Is that what it is coming to for the next generation? Nothing will be paid attention to unless it comes from a glowing screen? Will we truly lose all connection with each other as the world becomes even more co-dependant on their battery operated devices????

Sorry - going off on a tangent here. I digress.

(Love the "Chicago" line.. so true, so true.)

Erica said...

Thanks for your comments! I wish there was something that would help people "get it" but unfortunately unless they take a turn at performing or end up annoyed by something someone else is doing interrupting them, I don't know it will change.

You'd think that people would be embarrassed when someone has to ask them to stop texting. Perhaps the devices to cut cell signal (just in the house of the theater) is the way to go. Silly that you have to force people to do the right thing.

Kat that is my favorite song in Chicago - don't get a chance to quote it too often.

Mikurtis said...

I also was in that production of "The Crucible". During intermission, I had joked that we should start the second act with the whole cast standing on stage talking on cell phones or playing with their little hand-held games --- look up and say, "Wow, there's an audience... okay..." and then just go back to playing with our games and phones and ignoring them for a couple more minutes.

What I also find annoying though---is I work in retail... when people come up to the counter talking on their cellphyone and still want YOUR undivided attention.

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