Oh, those annoying paying guests…

How are we in the theatre going to adapt to the omnipresence of technology in the hands of our precious audience members? I for one am so bored with the pre-show “turn off your cell phones and other things that go beep” speech before every single play that I see that hearing it now makes my jaw clench. I realize there is the camp that thinks it’s really a favour to the other audience members (it’s not, it’s really a warning not to disturb the delicate geniuses onstage), and truthfully the only thing that makes my jaw clench more is someone’s phone going off around me during performance, or god forbid someone checking their damn texts in front of me. But every single time anything this has happened in a show I was at there was some version of the beepy thing admonishment beforehand, so how are we going to win?

Well, I guess we can accept it as a natural by-product of our age and hope that the glares from their fellow audience members is punishment enough so that a lesson is learned, and do our best to stay in the zone up there in performance. Or we can try new things to somehow adapt, as Oregon theatre company Portland Center Stage did recently by setting aside a balcony for audience members to twitter the performance. Or we can do what actress Patti LuPone does here, in this audio clip from a recent Broadway production of Gypsy, where she takes matters into her own hands with a shutterbug guest.  And the true irony of this clip is that it was caught on tape by another member of the audience with an elicit recording device. This, it seems, is the tech era we are now performing in…

Deliciously administered justice or unprofessional breakdown? You be the judge: