The beauty of theater is the ability to get lost in the allure of the acting and captivating story lines- not the glare of a cell phone. A story in the New York Post reports that audiences have become ruder than ever and it’s making the actors angry.
Actors practice for hundreds of hours to deliver amazing performances. While a ringing cell phone may seem like a mild annoyance to the average person; it can be viewed as an insult to their craft.
A cellphone went off as Laura Benanti was singing “Will He Like Me” during a performance of the 2015 revival of “She Loves Me.”
“I’ll wait,” she said. The phone continued to ring. “We’ll all wait,” she said, and the orchestra stopped playing until the phone was silenced.
Benanti later tweeted: “Anyone saying I shouldn’t have called out the ringing during my quietest, most vulnerable moment during yesterday’s matinee can suck my phone.”
Current Broadway shows are running an average of seven times per week. The probability of at least one person engaging in disruptive behavior via smart phone during each show is high.
Many theater houses are not able to enforce a no phone policy due to the massive culture surrounding social media and the use of this technology in everyday life. Apparently, using a cell phone in this space is an offense that is punishable by ticket. Cara Joy David cites that the probability of actually getting a ticket for phone use is unlikely.
When Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg vetoed the New York City law that makes cell phone “use”—defined as dialing, talking, having it ring, etc.—in theaters a ticketable offense he cited the enforcement difficulty. The City Council overrode the veto and so it is law, but we all know the law doesn’t do anything.
To avoid being a rude audience member, general theater etiquette would include enjoying the hard work of the actors sans cell phone and being present to enjoy all the scenes. That way, the chance of you getting accosted by an usher or a side eye from an actor would be slim.