Are Cell Phones To Blame For Rude Broadway Audiences?

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.

Empathy. Friend or Foe?

Recent events have showcased many mixed feelings among different groups of people. The highly publicized events in Ferguson surrounding the death of Michael Brown, John Crawford, and Vonderriit Myers Jr. who were all shot by a police officer has created quite a stir. In so many words a race war ensued pointing accusatory fingers and waves of reasons for justifications on both sides. Along with the very controversial news coverage – social media exploded with support and damnation for the victim and perpetrator. The comments differ on distinguishing who the victim and perpetrator actually are named. Among the range of comments I have read on social media, one on my Facebook seemed to pinpoint a very serious issue that no one else has seemed to address.

    Why does everyone keep making this about race, where is the humanity?

Humanity. Where is our obligation to have empathy for one another? To further examine that, the question should not be where is the humanity. The question is and always has been, how is the concept of humanity used? Daily we are shown incidents of death by merciless murderers, uniformed officers using excessive force, causalities of war, or brutality fueled by hate. The answer is looming all around in plain sight. The level of empathy for another person is dependent on how they are viewed. The art of dehumanization enables the mind to disassociate itself with actions that are less than sub-par.

This practice has been seen across civilizations and generations allowing for others to seize and maintain power as well as to implement inhumane punishments based on a flawed morality. Colonization, slavery, the feudal system, tribal wars, imprisonment, apartheid, and public executions highlight the dangerous exploits of the human mind that allow us to view another life as expendable.

It is easy to attribute this type of behavior to survival. Our ancestors survival was based primarily on beating out the competition. Competition for resources whether abundant or scarce create a sort of animosity between humans. Over time the instinctual notions of this animosity began to breed subconscious hatred. One could say that this was the beginning of the loss of empathy for others and the destruction of humanity.

Times may come where the pull of a string of the heart may insight empathy from others. These instances seem to become more rare and need to meet a list of qualifications. The basics starting with: who, what, where, when and how? Those five words are the basis on how we determine who is deserving.

Can this instinctual turned learned hatred be reversed? You would think that the massive societal advances in the human race would trigger would a kill switch on this type of thinking. What some fail to realize is in time our instinctual needs adapt to these changes. Survival is always an inevitable part of living no matter how progressive the surroundings. Therefore, empathy will remain where it has always remained- stuck underneath the plight of humanity.