Would you stop a show to yell at an audience member?

by Kenji Maeda on January 26, 2009

I came across this clip yesterday from Simon Ogden’s site The Next Stage and it reminded me of a video blog I had made a few months ago about etiquette and expectations when it comes to watching a movie or a live performance play.

Hearing a cell phone go off or people excessively talking in a movie theatre can be annoying and rude but when done while watching a play is inherently more rude because you’re dealing with actors on stage.

Earlier this month, on Broadway, during the performance of Gypsy, Patti LuPone stopped the show mid-song to stop an audience member from taking pictures during the show.

“Stop, stop, stop taking pictures right now!  You heard the announcement.  Who do you think you are?  Get them out.  How dare you?  Who do you think you are?  Get them out!  I won’t continue if they’re taking pictures.  Get them out. “

“Turn the lights back on, they’re right back there.  Three times, three times you took a picture.  You heard the announcement in the beginning, you heard the announcement at intermission, who do you think you are?  This is a theatre.”

As the camera-happy audience member was escorted out, and amongst the clapping and support from the audience, she continued:

“I have to say this: We have forgotten our public manners. And we have forgotten that we are in a community and this is the theatre, and all of you, every single one of you, except for that person, has respect.  And I and the rest of the company appreciate it.  Thank you.”

As actors we’re generally trained to keep going no matter what.  Someone missed a line? – Keep going.  A part of the set falls down? – Keep going.  You feel sick but have not understudy? – Keep going.

Granted there are many factors that would play into making a decision like that.  Patti LuPone might have been able to pull it off as the lead but certainly another cast member might not have.

So what might you have done if you were in a similar situation?  What about from the perspective of the audience?

Update (Jun 23 2009) – Patti Lupone again stopped a performance to ask an audience member, “what were you doing — videoing? Taking photos? Texting? I really want to know.” Read all about it on the Backstage blog.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Eric Lee January 26, 2009 at 12:33 am

Can you tell me who did your layout? I’ve been looking for one kind of like yours. Thank you.

Kenji Maeda January 27, 2009 at 11:30 am

@ Eric

The theme is Thesis. Here’s the link: http://tinyurl.com/thesisPH

Darcy January 30, 2009 at 10:48 am

Hey Kenji,

It never comes without a cost especially when you’re someone with a reputation as large as Patti LuPone’s.
Consider the outfall http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5Wh6DAFpW4

Kenji Maeda January 31, 2009 at 5:31 pm

@ Darcy
LOL That’s true. I doubt that cast is significant enough for her not to do it again. I thought that video was funny. :-)

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