In-theater texting and cell-phone ringing: A modest proposal

June 1, 2011
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Unfortunately, reports of cell phone ringing in theaters continues (see Frances McDormand's handling of it on Broadway on Saturday). And texting continues to be a source of frustration for those of us who actually want to focus on what's happening on stage (Thank you, annoying person with the bright screen three rows in front of me at the last Dance Kaleidoscope performance. Or the couple in the mezzanine who couldn't resist taking photos of themselves as the ISO played).

My question: Will anything work? No matter what is said in pre-show announcements, no matter how unfair it is to others, will anything work to get a cell phone society to shut the things off for two hours so that everyone can enjoy a play without distraction?

How about an announcement before each show that says:

"Please raise your right hand and repeat after me:  'I, state your name, agree that I will personally refund the ticket cost for every member of the audience if my cell phone goes off. Further, if I am so weak that I cannot refrain from texting during the two-hour running time of this show, I give my permission for the stranger next to me to grab the device and crush it under his or her foot (during the intermission, of course).'"

Would that help?

Or do you have other ideas for pithy announcements that could help stem the tide of rudeness that continues to damage the live performing arts experience?

What role should fellow audience members have in policing? Or should it all fall on ushers? Have you faced off with anyone over cell phones, texting, or other breaches in audience etiquette? Your thoughts?

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  • Distraction
    Lived In NYC for almost 4 years in my late 20's. Learned early at a concert at Lincoln Center a few of the proper etiquette rules during an intermission when not one but two people setting behind me gave me a couple "pointers". You do not bop or move your head anymore than needed as it is a distraction to people setting behind you. Additionally you read the program ONLY at intermission or at least during a break or new movement. SO yes it is up to all to police bad behavior.
  • Really annoying
    When I went to see "The Book of Mormon" a few weeks ago, the woman next to me spent almost the entire first act texting her son, who had not yet arrived at the theatre. As soon as the lights went up for intermission everyone around her pounced on her (well, not literally), and then an usher gave her a stern lecture. I will say she (and her husband) were sufficiently ashamed, but of course the rest of us had to suffer through an entire act of her texting. This wa a middle-aged woman, who I would have thought would know better.

    Doesn't Kennedy Center have something that somehow disables phone service? I know when I was there, my phone did not work.
  • Theatre Texting-Cell Use
    This is definitely one of my pet peeves. My husband and I enjoy going to the movies. It used to bother me when people constantly talked during a movie, now with cell phone use, the bright light bothers me more. I will ask the person to turn off their phone. If they do no comply, I'll get the manager. I find it very distracting to watch a movie and have the person constantly using their phone. Stay home people and let the rest of us enjoy a movie or play without your inconsiderate behavior.
  • Rudeness
    I personally will glare at the offender first and if the behavior is repeated will whisper and ask them to stop. I have had to speak to people who were singing along with the actors at intermission saying I preferred to hear the people on stage. I would also like to add candy wrappers and popcorn bags to the offenses that should be banned when attending a live performance. I wish parents and teachers would teach their children/students that shouting out their friend's name during a concert is completely disrespectful to the audience and the performers. Why have manners gone by the wayside?
    • Amen
      Haven't been to the movies in a long time (several years). You have enumerated the reasons...the decline of politeness in our society...always someone too loud, talking during the movie, texting, cell phoning, taking pictures, and if you say something, they look at you like you are the one with the problem, they have the gall to be confrontational themselves. Same thing at concerts, theater...I go because I love live music, live performance, but half the time I go away angry, or at least am not fully able to enjoy the performance. I rarely ever go to anything with a large audience anymore (went to the Lawn last year for Jackson Browne, almost made it through without an issue, tolerable, great concert). Small intimate stages are about the only place where you can avoid this sort of behavior, and no guarantee there. Very annoying, and I don't see it getting better. The era of self importance has arrived...I do love the idea of the announcement that allows me to snatch the cell phone out of the offender's hand and stomp it to pieces...well done Lou! We can dream...
    • I wish that was everywhere
      With regard to Pasquale and the Kennedy Center, that would be a dream...a screen of some kind that disables the cell phone during the show...probably expensive technology that most venues can not afford, if in fact that does exist...I suppose there could be other reasons your cell wouldn't work there...having said that, it wouldn't stop people from still being rude either...I guess we need a technology that temporarily disables the rude person instead...hmmm, now there is some technology!
      • Where are they??
        I'd like to hear from a person who feels free to disturb the rest of an audience during a live performance. You are legion! Defend yourself.
      • Not sure
        I'm an usher at Clowes and yes, we have problems with the light from the cell phones all the time. The bad thing at our theatre is that if someone is sitting on the main floor texting, people on the terraces can see the light. It's amazing how bright one cell phone light can be in a dark theatre. We do have a house announcement before the performance begins about refraining from texting, but it falls on deaf ears. I've also asked individuals to put away their phones if the light is bothering people around them. During a rock concert, it's normal to see hundreds of phones in the air of people trying to take photos, but during an opera, for example, the light is quite distracting. I don't have a solution. It just seems to me that people aren't aware of how their cell phone actions affect others around them.
      • You never know.......
        The Indiana Legislature and Governor now allow guns in libraries, etc., so they are probably also allowed in theatres. Just make an announcement that using cell phones during the movie or performance could anger a gun-toting patron and that management has no control over their presence or actions.
      • Why is it?
        Why is it that when these rude people get on their cell phones, they think the person on the other end is hard of hearing? I get annoyed in restaurants when people do this - they scream like they're talking to someone across the room! It's rude to their dining companions who have to sit through the conversation too.
      • Fine Them!
        At a recent United Way fundraiser, the emcee told everyone to put away their phones because if they were caught ringing or texting, they would be making a $20 donation to United Way. Raised $60 - small amount considering the number of attendees. But the point was made in a way that was not offensive and the offenders paid for charity - probably too embarassed to say no! We could save the arts!!
      • Cell phone jammer
        I have long thought that all theatres, concert halls, etc. should be equipped with cell phone jammers. I rarely go to movies either because of rude behavior of other patrons. The irritating, non-stop use of cell phones far outweighs their benefits. People have become incredibly co-dependent because of them. If you can't "unplug" for two hours to watch a movie, then you should stay at home. Obviously, you can't rely on the majority of people in the modern age to think of others or act with common sense.
      • Love it.
        I think I am going to add your speech to my curtain speech for my next show, Lou.
      • Food in theatres
        @robsgirl. Oh my god, the candy wrappers. We saw The Color Purple in Chicago a few years ago and the guy behind us ate peanut M&Ms from the bag the whole time. The etiquette for cough drops during symphony concerts was to unwrap it before the concert started or during breaks in the overture. But what I want to ask is this: can you not TEXT for 2 hours? can you not put something in your mouth for 2 hours? I find that even more obnoxious.
      • Strict Discipline
        I attended a preview showing a few weeks ago where a promotion company representative asked us to get out our cell phones and turn them OFF (not mute or vibrate) - he waited until they were all off, then proceeded to say that if we needed to use our phones to take it outside. They would allow one time only - after that we would be asked to leave the theater and not return. At the time I thought it was a little extreme, but I enjoyed the movie without any interruption so it turned out well.
      • more on cells/texting
        Unfortunately, I believe cell phone jamming is illegal.

        The question I didn't ask: How responsible should theaters be in sending a very clear message? Are we past the point of trusting that all audience members will get how rude it is to text or leave a cell phone on?

        And, for the record, the definition of "vibrate" varies from phone to phone. Some are actually close to silent. Others can be heard. You should know how loud your phone's vibrate setting is.

        It all comes down to respecting the people around you and appreciating that they are trying to focus on what's happening on stage.

        Keep the comments coming.

        --Lou
        • in agreement
          I completely agree with the author. I have been both a performer and an offended audience member both at performances and the movies dealing with these people. These people should be removed by the ushers, no questions asked. There have been times when I want to stop performing and ask the rude person to leave. People have spent their hard earned money and I appreciate them attending and they deserve to hear and watch it uninterrupted. Even when there are announcements made to turn off cell phones, people don't do it because they are very arrogant and ignorant and self centered. Your social life is not the most important thing on everyone's agenda. Also if you are sick or have allergies, I suggest you bring cough drops or hard candy, tissues, and a bottle of water or stay away from the event. It always starts off with one person coughing and then many more people in the audience do it. I spend much of the event not hearing what is going on because of someone's coughing fit or they are talking to their neighbor or the people they came with. For movies, do not each nachos. If you are going to eat popcorn, eat one or two pieces at a time. Don't inhale a whole handful of popcorn and then munch with your mouth open. Don't loudly slurp your drink. I usually wait for movies to come out on dvd because of people's rude behavior at the movies. I should not have to put up with it when I am watching a musical being performed because of the high price paid for tickets. Come on people show more manners, especially those that attend these cultural events and know better.
        • Laser them
          I've resorted to child like tactics in my efforts to thwart people from ruining my times at the movies by employing a simple, and very annoying tool - a laser pointer. Hey, fight fire with fire, I saw. The instant I see someone lighting up half the theater with their 4" bright white screen I blast them with a $5 laser pointer. Remember those from their fad several years back. I just point, click, and run the bright red dot all over their screen alerting them to their annoying ways. Hey... I can be just as annoying. Let me prove it. But let me watch my $13 movie in complete darkness.
          • If you can't be alone...
            then don't go to a movie/restaurant/theatre with less then 200 of you "closest friends" with you. I do not understand why people are so codependent that they cannot event turn off their phones for two hours. Will the world end if you don't know that Suzy is on a date with Mike tonight? OMG! LOL! Sense the sarcasm?
          • My curtain speech
            At my theatre, when I give the curtain speech I always ask the audience to turn off their cell phones. I tell them if they ring during the performance the actors will come down off the stage and confiscate them, and then I say, "To avoid all that embarrassment, please raise your right hand and repeat after me:
            I - state your name - do hereby solemnly swear - that I will ruthlessly ridicule anyone - stupid enough - to answer their cell phones during a live performance!"

            Gets a guaranteed big laugh and works every time!
          • I talk and text...so what
            I honestly feel that if you want absolute quietness you should stay at home...alone.

            Part of being in public during a live performance or movie theatre is to collectively enjoy some form of entertainment. I am from Chicago, and in many movie theatres, talking, laughing, ooing and awing, were a part of why I wanted to attend the theatre and not stay at home.

            So what...someone wants to take a picture of themselves or eat M&M's during a show. I do not attend the symphony, for example, because it is too darn quiet but other events are not so.

            I do not think one should totally be engrossed in loud or lewd behavior during the entire show but texting is very common and I have received text messages regarding important matters, like work, and was able to resolve it quickly instead of going back to the office...or my baby sitter wanting to know again where I left something for my daughter...or I left my rigger on accidently and did not mean for it to ring in the theatre. Before you co-sign for shooting me, shocking me, or embarrassing me...you may actually be making assumptions that are inaccurate, imagine that.

            Step out of your thoughts and consider that there are other reasons people do things than to just be "rude" to you. They may be, guess what, enjoying themselves, like you should be. Some people frankly have no one to text them, call them, or take a picture with them.
            • really?
              Open,
              I appreciate the honesty of your reply. However, I sincerely hope I'm never anywhere near you in a theater.
              And, for the record, I don't expect absolutely quiet. An honest reaction TO WHAT IS HAPPENING ON STAGE OR ON SCREEN is something one should expect. If you laugh or gasp in reaction to what you see, great. That's part of the pleasure of attention a comedy or thriller with others.
              And, by all means, eat your M&Ms. Just do it quietly and with respect for the people around you.
              As to your important calls, I have a suggestion: Tell work or your sitter to only text you in an emergency. And if your phone vibrates, you need to get outside and take it. (Better yet, make sure you have an aisle seat if your work is so important). Then, if you aren't on the aisle, stay in the back until intermission.
              In short: Your call is not more important then the experience of the rest of the people who are trying to enjoy the show and gave their time and money to do so. Your text is not more important than the people distracted by the light from your phone.
              Just because someone isn't doing it to be rude to me, doesn't mean that the person isn't rude.
              Oh, and there's a way not to leave your ringer on accidentally: When you hear the announcement, get in the habit of CHECKING IT. Then check it again. And if, during the show, you realize that you didn't check it, then quietly remove the battery. It's easy. I've done it.
              And if you really, really want interaction at a movie theater, go to Rocky Horror.
              Sincerely,
              Lou
            • Agree with Lou
              First off, YEAH Lou!

              Second, to "Open", if you must talk on your phone for any reason... then leave the theatre! No one really cares what your reason may be, even if that reason may be your work or babysitter... no talking on your phone!

              And as for texting... it isn't that important if it can be summed up in a text message. Either wait until the show is over, or refer to the previous paragraph.
            • Yes really...
              My opinion still stands and many people feel as I do just are not brave enough to say anything.

              Although the "announcement" occurs at the beginning of the event to silence/vibrate your phone, accidents do happen and vibrating my phone is sometimes louder and more distracting than the ringing and texting...or Lou maybe you are perfect in your quiet world. In my world, things happen that I do not expect...sorry but with a toddler daughter, my sitter can contact me whenever she wants to clarify something. I would prefer her erring on the side of caution and many parents of young children feel that way.

              You obviously do not have constant client contact or your business reference would not exist. I am in business where clients have my information and randomly contact me worldwide. They are contacting me from different time zone for sometimes urgent matters. Sitting in an aisle seat is a "solution" to you but not practical or available in many situations.

              I honestly believe that my "core" point is lost in your response Lou so I will repeat it..."There are situations that occur that have nothing to do with being "rude" to you or others and can, guess what, be valid."
              Many of the comments are absolute and there is no variance in it. If one is in a public setting for a show there will not be total silence as many people here have expressed. The comments read as if the entire world has agreed upon "rude rules." Guess, what...not true.

              If I am at a small group gathering- say 6-10 people, I will tell them before hand, "My sitter/clint may contact me while I am here and I may have to respond to the call/message" but in an auditorium, that is not an option.

              Again, if you want total peace and quiet, stay home with the doors/windows closed, blinds/curtains shut, and no family or friends there....rent movies and recorded live performances.
              • One more thing...
                Oh, and you're subject line of "I talk and text... so what" shows you're self-centered. That attitude is one of the problems with our society now. No consideration for those around you.
              • Really?
                Open,
                Really? You can't be out of contact for two hours? Do you realize that there was time when people did not have cell phones and managed quite well without them? If you cannot stand to be out of contact w/ your work, sitter, kid or whatever for two hours, then stay home.
              • Read carefully...
                Andrew...If you read my original post I never said I talk on the phone during performances...I said I text "quickly to resolve it." Also, I do not have to wait until the show is over to do so.

                My talking is talking to others who attended with me in response to the show/movie...as I also mentioned.

                Your inaccurate reply is one of my points...you see what you want to see and do not consider others possible reasons that people do things even when other facts are presented.

                I feel strong in my opinion because I know many people feel as I do.

                There has been several "rude/violent" referencs made in these comments that many of you should be ashamed of and act like you do not see...Examples: snatching my phone, stomping/destrying it, and "gun toting patron" references. Guess what everyone and listen closely...if you do any of these things to me, you will be in trouble....with the law..I will not me for my actions.

                After you or your friends do the above and you are being held responsible...I will immediately say to the person with me take my phone (if it not destroyed) and text to my contacts...Amazing...Who is the crazy one know!
              • Really
                Open,
                You bought a ticket to an event--movie or theater--where the management has asked you not to talk or text during the performance. You opt to ignore that and talk and/or text.
                Guess what? You are the bad guy.
                Yes, accidents happen. But you can reduce the chance of that happening AND reduce the chance that it will disturb others. If you elect not to do those things, then you are demonstrating that you are putting your needs/desires way above those of the good people around you.
                A phone ringing at the dramatic climax of a play destroys a moment that the audience will never get back. Why do you believe you have the right to take that from someone with a "so what?" attitude?
                If you have to have constant client contact, don't go to a show. If you need constant text access to your babysitter while at a movie, go early enough to take the back row on the aisle and step out if you get a vibration.
                Love--or, at least, respect--thy neighbor. You aren't the center of the universe.
                Lou
              • Yes...really
                I am not the one annoyed so you should stay home. Do not be so upset because I have things to attend to. You are missing my main point also. This is typical of Indiana…one tract thinking and believing that everyone thinks the same…they do not.
                • Rude people who do not read...
                  Lou...you really should read my messages because you are not responding to my points and are incorrect in what I stated. Typical though...
                • really
                  Open,
                  This has nothing to do with Indiana thinking (but thanks for stereotyping). It's an issue around the country, wherever people are putting their own needs above those of the people around them. And I'm having trouble following your logic: You do something that's against the policy of the venue AND is annoying at the same time and you tell me that I shouldn't go?
                  If you were smoking in a non-smoking restaurant, wouldn't I have the right to complain?
                  Lou
                • No... you're in the minority
                  Either way... if you're at a movie/performance, the MAJORITY of people don't want to hear you and your friends conversation. You are not in the majority, you are in the minority. If you were in the majority... do you even think theaters would even mention, "no talking/no cell phone use, etc"? No! If you're so business-minded, then think of it that way. A business is only going to address an issue if the majority are complaining about it. So, don't kid yourself... you are not in the majority, but in a very small minority.

                  And again, you are trying to justify your actions by saying that things in your life are more important than the people around you trying to enjoy something they paid for. You want to talk or text, then you are the one that should stay at home. And to go back to your self-centered attitude... no, you don't have to do anything... but you could be considerate of the majority of the other people. Think of it that way instead... but, in the end you probably won't. So, I won't stomp on your phone, I won't snatch it from you... I will just politely go to the management, and then you will be the one leaving... and you will be the one who loses their enjoyment of the show, and not me.
                • My final thoughs...
                  Respect thy neighbors...that I do and will continue to do. It is sad that you are not addressing my logic and point..which is typical in Indiana. I never said my opinion was the majority and do not believe it is.

                  Your responses to be are narrow and "self-centered" not mine. I am talking about instances that are not always foreseeable or controllable and for you to stop thinking of just "yourself" in terms of knowing all things and the reasons that all things occur.

                  I have never been "escorted out of any event my management or anyone else" and do not plan on it but try if you must. Talking to the management is actually cowardly and passive anyway...I actually appreciate the comments here from people who said they would "politely ask" me to "stop" what I was doing. That would be more appropriate Lou and Andrew and direct. This is actually what I would do if someone was disturbing me for any reason and I just could not it.

                  Why, because...guess what...contrary to what you may think, I may not have known I was offending someone or was too loud or too bright with my phone or too whatever to you...I could then choose to stop my behavior, which I would. I would not continue it after someone told me otherwise out of "respect and courtesy."

                  For anyone else who chooses to read my comments, consider my overall points as I will yours but if you touch me or my things to destroy them...you will be in trouble not me.
                • Open
                  Open,
                  It is impossible, from the mezzanine, to tell someone in the orchestra section that their phone screen is annoying. Trust me: If you are texting during a show, you are bothering someone.

                  Just to make sure I'm addressing all of your points, I'll take them from your original note:

                  "I talk and text...so what" -- A self-centered statement, putting your needs and desires above all others.

                  "I honestly feel that if you want absolute quietness you should stay at home...alone."--No one has suggested that a thater should be absolutely quiet.


                  "So what...someone wants to take a picture of themselves or eat M&M's during a show. I do not attend the symphony, for example, because it is too darn quiet but other events are not so." -- My photo reference was regarding people creating a distraction by repeatedly taking photos during a symphony concert.

                  "Texting is very common and I have received text messages regarding important matters, like work, and was able to resolve it quickly instead of going back to the office...or my baby sitter wanting to know again where I left something for my daughter..." -- These are your issues and shouldn't be imposed on the people around you who paid money for tickets to see what's on screen or stage.

                  "or I left my rigger on accidently and did not mean for it to ring in the theatre." -- Then you weren't paying attention to the annoucement. You deserve the scowls you get for impacting the enjoyment of others.

                  "Before you co-sign for shooting me, shocking me, or embarrassing me..." No shooting. No shocking. But embarrassing, well, you deserve it.

                  "you may actually be making assumptions that are inaccurate, imagine that." No assumptions. You've created an annoyance and have a "so what" attitude about it.

                  "Step out of your thoughts and consider that there are other reasons people do things than to just be "rude" to you." -- Nobody suggested that it was just to be rude. It's still rude.

                  "Some people frankly have no one to text them, call them, or take a picture with them." -- Can't make sense out of this one.

                  Everything addressed?

                  Lou
                • Okay... let's address, point-by-point
                  I'll address your last post, "My final thoughts"...

                  1st paragraph - Yes, you did say you thought you were in the majority - "I feel strong in my opinion because I know many people feel as I do." taken from your post, "Read Carefully".

                  2nd paragraph - "So what...someone wants to take a picture of themselves or eat M&M's during a show. I do not attend the symphony, for example, because it is too darn quiet but other events are not so. I do not think one should totally be engrossed in loud or lewd behavior during the entire show but texting is very common and I have received text messages regarding important matters, like work, and was able to resolve it quickly instead of going back to the office...or my baby sitter wanting to know again where I left something for my daughter...or I left my rigger on accidently and did not mean for it to ring in the theatre. Before you co-sign for shooting me, shocking me, or embarrassing me...you may actually be making assumptions that are inaccurate, imagine that." Taken from your first post, "I text and talk... so what". This doesn't sound like it happens on rare occurances for you. Between all of your posts you go from this to, "rare occurances". Sounds as if you're changing your tone for your argument. And here's a hint for you... if your argument is "so what", then you are the self-centered one because "so what" isn't an argument.

                  3rd paragraph - Call it cowardly or call it passive, but I would go to the management to avoid conflict. I just prefer not to start a conflict when I've spent money to be somewhere... I don't want to get thrown out if a conflict does start. If it is at a place that I didn't have to pay to get in... believe me, I will say something to you, not any type of management. And this is an assumption, but based on your posts, I don't really think you're the type that would stop if someone brought it to your attention. You seem as if you would start a conflict. Based on this comment from your first post, "I text and talk... so what". "Again, if you want total peace and quiet, stay home with the doors/windows closed, blinds/curtains shut, and no family or friends there....rent movies and recorded live performances."

                  4th paragraph - You didn't know? I think there is a message from the theater at the beginning reminding you not to use cell phones. Again, if it wasn't an issue raised by a majority, the business wouldn't address it.

                  5th paragraph - Don't really have anything on this. But do you really think someone is going to snatch your phone out of your hand? And as far as touching you, I won't as long as you don't touch me.

                  And my final thought... I have addressed each one of your points and used your own statements from your posts... just in case some people didn't catch the beginning. So, try again to justify your self-centered attitude.
                • the original question
                  So...

                  Do you have other ideas for pithy announcements that could help stem the tide of rudeness that continues to damage the live performing arts experience?

                  What role should fellow audience members have in policing? Or should it all fall on ushers?
                • the original question
                  So...

                  Do you have other ideas for pithy announcements that could help stem the tide of rudeness that continues to damage the live performing arts experience?

                  What role should fellow audience members have in policing? Or should it all fall on ushers?
                • AVENUE Q opening number
                  Last night, one of the most highly-anticipated productions of the Indy theatre season opened at the Phoenix Theatre - AVENUE Q. During the opening number, the young man next to me began texting or checking FB. I anticipated this happening because I'd seen him deliberately leave his cell phone on & handy, so I didn't hesitate.
                  "Dude, please don't text during the show..." He smiled widely at me, maybe flirting, maybe thinking I was flirting. I said, "Seriously. I worked on this show and I'd like to watch it." He put the cell phone away -- though it did briefly light up a couple more times during the performance.

                  I admit I love my phone, and it's really difficult for me to keep my hands off it for very long. Maybe this guy isn't an avid theatre-goer, and because of the 'event' atmosphere and the fun nature of the show, he didn't think twice about using his phone. Maybe at concerts, this behavior is commonplace.

                  I am not acting in Avenue Q - I worked during the rehearsal process - but I am an actor who has looked out into the audience and seen cell phones light up. It's very distracting to me. I could be completely connected with my scene partners, but upon noticing that powerful light pierce the darkness, my thoughts suddenly shift: am I doing a good job? Are they bored or ignorant or disrespectful or jerkfaces? Instances like these have sometimes infuriated me, sometimes completely hurt my feelings. (Don't get me started on cameras. Ew. EWWWW! Don't bring them, don't use them.)
                  Should that cell phone happen to illuminate the face of the user, I do look forward to giving him or her the evil eye should I see them after the show. Grrrrrrr...

                  I felt nervous being so direct and clearly irritated with the texting stranger - I am a Hoosier, not a New Yorker. But I also know that the other Hoosiers around me may not have been so bold. Those were my friends up there performing. I had a duty to say something, I suppose.
                • As an actor, curtain speaker and frequent audience member
                  The cell phone in the theatre has been an issue that definitely seems to be getting worse.

                  As an actor, when someone's phone rings in the middle of a performance or you see someone texting in the audience, it is a huge slap in the face.

                  As a curtain speaker, I always tell everyone to get out their cell phone and make sure it is completely turned off. And I point out that everyone who's phone has gone off during a performance, will probably say that they swore they turned it off, so check again. No one wants to be that person, and certainly no one wants to be sitting near that person whose phone goes off. As someone who works in the theatre, I personally believe it is partially the theatre's responsibility to remind everyone to turn their phones off. It is just a part of today's modern society. Everyone has a cell phone. If it disrupts the performance and ruins the experience for a patron, the theatre is at risk of losing a regular patron. However, we can't control people, we can only hope for the best in people.

                  As a patron, why would you spend the money to see a play, concert, or even a movie if you are not expecting to enjoy it completely? I always remind people I'm with to turn off their phones when we sit down. I've told people to be quiet at performances before when they were talking and carrying on in between songs. (a groups of women seeing Rock of Ages thought they were at a Def Leppard concert, not a musical). When people text, talk, or purposely leave their phone on, they are clearly stating that their experience is more important than everyone else's.

                  Thank you Lou for bringing up this issue.
                • my sin
                  Thanks, Lou, for the Check Your Vibrate comment. I nearly died of shame during a show at the Phoenix, with my dear friend Bill Simmons on stage, his wife, and friend Constance beside me. Yes, my phone was on vibrate. Yes, it was against some hard plastic in my bag and yes, it was as loud as a ring. I will never have my phone in any way "on" in a performance venue again. Where, oh where can I go to lift this sin from my soul? And don't they collect phones at the theater door in the UK?
                • Patricia
                  I may not have anyone in my pitiful life who would text, call, or email me fifty times per day, but I do have people in my life who can't get enough of me in person, kissing me, touching me, engaging me emotionally, sitting next to me, having an in-person intellectual conversation, etc. More to the point, if your need to be in contact with work folks while outside of work or family while you are away from home is an untouchable priority, and if most of the folks around you have entered into an unspoken agreement to respect the blood, sweat, and tears that go into good theater by staying off their phones, then you should make arrangements to sit on the end of an aisle close to the back so that you can excuse yourself to take a call or text. This is about an agreement to abide by a protocol that is centuries old. I don't expect to be able to read a book at a Colt's game, insisting that everyone shut up around me so that I can concentrate. It's just agreed upon that this is not how one behaves at a football game. It is agreed upon, that in most Western theatrical performances, the outside world stays outside for two hours and your focus is on the show. Laugh, cry, clap, respond TO THE SHOW, not your phone.
                • just another comment...
                  Open,
                  Open,
                  The one thing I haven't seen addressed is your comparing a movie to a play. They are completely different things. The thing that makes live theatre, well, "live theatre," is that there are living, breathing humans that are putting themselves out on the stage for a story to be experienced, not to be ignored.
                  I agree that if you do indeed decide to support local artists and go to a local, professional theatre (yes, a big difference than community theatre), then commit to it and do it, and sit in the back if you have other pressing issues. When I'm at the movies, I don't care AS much about the phone ringing, because the movie will go on as it was filmed and as an audience member, I just have to choose to ignore it and focus on the film, because I know that it will always be that way if I want to rent it later (also, sidenote, the movie doesn't cost as much as a play).
                  But on stage, it effects everything, because each and every moment is dependent on the one before it, which makes it more exciting, and the reason why it's been an artistic ritual for hundreds of years (and yes, one of the many reasons it costs more than a movie). A phone ringing in THAT situation? Even if the actors ACT like it doesn't effect the show or them, it does. And even if the audience members around you ACT like it doesn't effect the, it does. It sets that moment (which is the only time that very moment will ever happen) and the rest of the show in motion, which is why I am completely and utterly disgusted by the use of cell phones during a play, other than those reasons already mentioned.
                  I'm not the best in explaining myself in a logical fashion, but I'm pretty sure you get my drift. I mean everything I say in utter respect; I just want to put my two cents in, and bring in another perspective as unbiased as I can, considering that I myself am an actor and involved audience member when I can be.
                • Laser does the trick
                  I was at a small performance in Istanbul last year where they requested that no photos be taken. A few people were 'lit up' during the show who decided to ignore the request.

                  They should be in the hands of ushers at the back of a performance to minimize the risk of eyeballing anyone. All you need to do is light them up (or their phones) so that they know they've been seen, to be followed by removal from the venue if the arrogance persists.
                • Awesome Theater
                  Hey Open, were you in Austin, TX lately?
                  http://technolog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/06/07/6804530-crazed-movie-customers-voice-mail-backfires?GT1=43001

                  This was on MSN's homepage today... and since we've been talking about it, I thought others would enjoy. I wish more theaters here would have this policy. And I love that this theater has been doing this since 1997... even better that they made a YouTube commercial out of it (press play at the bottom).
                  • Weakminded
                    If you guys cant focus on a huge screen and you let a small screen distract you thats on for a few seconds then you should probably stay at home and wait for the bluray.
                  • No argument
                    Another "get over it, my world is more important than yours" argument from Nick, which is not an argument.
                  • Ha!
                    I heard about that Austin theatre on Bob and Tom this morning --- too funny. Maybe this will catch on elsewhere!
                  • About That Kidney
                    Have you heard that Darrell Hammond stopped his show, "Tru," when an audience's member's phone rang, to ask, "Has the kidney arrived?"

                    Love it!

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