This post touches two ares of my life: mobile tech and live theatre. There’s a video (below the jump) of a performance by Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig that was interrupted by a cellphone going off. Jackman precedes to stop the show and ask the audience member if they are going to answer the phone. You can imagine the scenario I’m sure. Just recently in a performance of Wayside Theatre’s production of Robert E. Lee and John Brown: Lighting the Fuse, we had a similar incident with a cell phone going off, although none of our actors stopped the show they just soldiered on through the distraction. What made this incident particularly crazy was that the lady in question, after ignoring the ringing, finally answered the phone (in full voice mind you) and then exited the theatre. She then preceded to tell the other party to call her back.
Cellphones in public places, and especially at live performances, demonstrate, in my opinion, the different kinds of people that populate the planet. In my business we see a range of this all the time. Folks who automatically turn off their cellphones before a performance begins, folks who do so after a reminder in an announcement, and those who view themselves at the center of the world and pay no mind to those around them.
At one of the regional auditions I attend for Wayside Theatre the audition room policy (over 80 theatres are watching the actors try to get a job) is that if your phone goes off while an actor is auditioning you have to pay the actors audition fee. I think that is more than appropriate but it shouldn’t be necessary, but the reminder of it after breaks and such, certainly helps.
We also do a reminder in our welcome curtain speech about turning off devices. Usually the reminderÂ comes with a joke attached. We do this live and not with a taped announcement because I think folks have become immune to those pre-show taped announcements. After delivering the reminder and joke, you see quite a few phones being turned off and you hear the inevitable shut down sounds ringing through the audience. Put obviously there are some who think this communal acknowledgment isn’t meant for them.
Here’s the thing as I see it. Cellphones are equipped with methods of turning off ringers. It doesn’t take much beyond common courtesy to do so. But yet, some folks are so clueless to their surroundings that they can’t even extend that courtesy. My favorite situation that I witness all the time (and it happens in this video as well) is when folks try to pretend that it isn’t their phone that is ringing and just let it go on and on. Mobile technology allows us to be connected just about anywhere these days. And it also gives some folks the opportunity to show just how self centered and clueless they are in more situations as well.