An article at Playbill discusses an alarming problem that is fast becoming the latest headache for the house staff at Broadway theatres: text messaging. Now, I think the text message is an excellent way of communicating in a situation in which talking on the phone isn’t a viable option. However, it is made especially clear by the house management prior to the show either usually in the form of an announcement or in some cases an insert in the Pllaybill for audience members to turn off all electronic devices. Considering there is a law against the use of cell phones in theatres, one might assume this would fall under the ban. Most shocking is the item about Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon at a matinee of August: Osage County. If you’re only going to attend one act (especially when you think they probably received comp tickets) and spend the entire time on your blackberry, why bother coming at all? There are other people who could use the ticket, who would want to be engaged. It was also recently reported on the message boards about the incident at Gypsy last weekend where a teenager in the second row spent the entire first act texting to the increasingly unhinging frustration of Patti LuPone, who eventually wouldn’t re-enter the show in the second act until the girl was relocated or removed.
There was a time with one of my older cell phones, I would even remove the battery for the duration, just in case it accidentally turned on during the performance. Paranoid as I might be, I occasionally double or triple check the phone during a show to make sure it is off, even though I know I shut it down prior to the curtain. There’s always intermission people!!
In the words of your friend and mine, Mattie Fae Aiken, “Just…show a little class!!”