Here’s the thing. If you go to the theatre, turn off your f***ing cell phone. And you know what else? If you sit in front of me, SERIOUSLY TURN OFF YOUR F***ING CELL PHONE!!!
I recently had the pleasure of seeing PIPPIN on Broadway. I have some dear friends in the show and wanted nothing more than to get lost in the performance, which is hard enough for any actor who knows what goes on behind the scenes, but let’s add an additional challenge to that – a group full of probably high school/possibly late middle school students sitting in front of me.
Here’s the thing – I believe that everybody should experience theatre and understand what it is. I also believe, however, that when you jump into something that isn’t necessarily your “norm” per se, that you need to adjust YOUR norm.
When my friend, Megan, went to Greece during her senior year of high school, for example, I remember her telling me that she had to bring all pants or skirts below the knee so that she was socially ok. I was, oh, 19, when she told me this, so I was kinda surprised, but whatever. I had surely never been to Greece, and you know what, if an adult told me I needed to wear skirts below the knee, I would do it.
Cut to maybe half way into the first act of Pippin and the young man (I’m guessing 16-17 years old) in front of me, ANSWERS HIS PHONE!!!! Granted, it was on vibrate, but his “hello” was loud and clear. I was stunned. I turned to the people I was with and whispered “Did he just answer a phone?” to which they sort of shrugged. I was enraged. SO DISRESPECTFUL not only to those around him but to the actors. I wanted so badly to just enjoy the show and now I was so distracted by this kid on his cell phone.
I tapped him on the shoulder and he shrugged apologetically at me, but did NOT hang up. In the end, I had to get an usher to come and intervene to get him to hang up the phone. I actually said to him “is there a life you are saving on the other end of the line?” and again, he shrugged.
I was irritated, but what really made me lose faith in humanity was that at intermission, I discovered that the two older women sitting directly next to him were his teachers. In other words, those women did not even bat an eye when he answered his phone during the show! They did not acknowledge me when I tapped him on the shoulder to ask him to hang up, they did not reach out to him to say “hey, get off the phone. . . ”
Guess what, adults? BE ADULTS! Teach these kids some manners, some tradition, some respect!
A friend at intermission said it best. . . . “you can’t go golfing without knowing the rules of golf!”
I am a golfer, so I can COMPLETELY relate to this statement. Golf and theatre are similar in that there are “rules” and “etiquette” that you should follow to respect the very sport and art you are playing/seeing. If that makes theatre and golf not accessible to all, that’s a price I am willing to pay to preserve the art of both. Sure, there is a learning curve. But when somebody else taps you on the shoulder, for example, and tells you that you shouldn’t be on your phone, perhaps hang up . . . . that applies to both golf AND theatre.