The Playgoer: Cellphone Foolery

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Cellphone Foolery

At "The Pillowman" a few seasons back, just as Jeff Goldblum was fixing to shoot Billy Crudup, there came - from front row, center - the unmistakable strains of "The Mexican Hat Dance."

The actors froze. Several agonizing repetitions later, the cellphone silenced and the action resumed.

Barbara Hoffman in the NY Post surveys the "shhh" announcements of various shows. Such as:

Jim Harker, production stage manager of "A Bronx Tale," where "very, very few" ringtones have interrupted Chazz Palminteri's intermission-free reverie about the 'hood.

Maybe it's because violators are threatened with a baseball bat beforehand.

Or maybe it's because the average audience member left at A Bronx Tale averages 106 years old.

Question: when house managers and stage managers have been turned into librarians...is it time to consider the death of audience silence in the theatre? The kind of play that audiences watch in the dark in enforced silence--with the reverence due to a work of art, as opposed to the communal enjoyment of a public spectacle--has only been around 150 years or so. A blip--an anomalous one at that--in the arc of theatre history.

That said, I too have wondered--who is it out there that, when their friends go to a play, waits until exactly about 10:45pm to call them at exactly the most climactic silent pause of the evening?

And why does the offending ringtone have to so often be Mexican Hatdance?

1 comment:

Junio said...

At "Crimes of the Heart" at the Laura Pels, director Kathleen Turner does the cellphone/sweeties warning. I've never been so terrified. I didn't even have a phone with me, but I still checked it.