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British Critic Stirs Debate Over Phone Use in Theatre


As technology continues to creep further and further into every aspect of our lives with the advent of smart phones, wearable technology, and more, the performing arts-- and especially theatre-- have been attempting to find ways to adapt to the changing times, while also preserving the unique experience that sitting in an audience can provide.

In recent years, a number of theatres around the country and world have had "relaxed" and social media-friendly performances, specifically designed to encourage audience members-- often of the younger generations-- to engage with the production in similar ways to how they do so with a TV show or movie that they are watching at home.

While this has not become a trend regularly employed by some of our largest theatres, especially on Broadway, today, the place of audience cell phone-use became a topic of discussion as London-based theatre critic Laura Kressly inadvertently set off a mini-firestorm with a single tweet.

From there, theatre fans and professionals alike began to debate the topic on social media, many of whom were not in support with Kressly's position. Broadway star Jessica Vosk was not a fan of this philosophy.

British stage and screen star Lizzie Roper said that performers have a much different perspective on this than many others.

Broadway Record's designer and cabaret director and performer Robbie Rozelle voiced what many people said online, that audience members using phones not only distract performers, but also negatively impact the people who have paid to see the show.

Toronto theatre-artist Ryan G. Hinds brought up the point that while some people apparently need the stimulation of a phone to deal with anxiety, it should be done at one of the aforementioned casual performances.

Additionally, many theatre fans seemed to be especially offended by the practice.

That being said, a number of people also saw some merit to Kressly's stance, even if they didn't agree completely.

What do you think? Should theatres and productions evolve with our more technology-centric times, and allow for cell phone use in the audience? Or should rules banning the practice become more strictly enforced?

Let us know what you think on social media (just maybe not while you are in the audience of a show); @BroadwayWorld on Twitter and BroadwayWorld on Facebook!

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