Please hold……..

cell phoneI have attended over seventy theatrical productions in the past ten months and many films. Sitting in a darkened theatre with anticipation of the magic that is about to unfold before me is one of the greatest pleasures in my life. The anticipation, the tension, the darkness, the suspension of disbelief….and then, someone forgot to shut off their cell phone. And I am whisked back to reality. And sadness.

If you didn’t hear what happened to Kevin Williamson, a theatre critic for the National Review, here is a link to his first person account of the incident. http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/348453/theater-night-vigilantes-1-vulgarians-0-kevin-williamson
In short, an entitled woman sitting near him chatted and texted on her cell phone during the first act of the final preview performance of a new Off Broadway musical. She conversed loudly with her friends and was grossly interruptive. At intermission, Mr. Williamson approached house management and asked them to tell her to tone it down. They did. She didn’t. So, during the second act, he asked her to quiet down, she didn’t, he grabbed her cell phone and tossed it across the theatre toward the exit. BRAVO! She slapped him, became more disruptive and security came and escorted Mr. Williamson out of the theatre.

If I had been at that performance, I would have cheered for him. I certainly understand his outrage. Her entitled tactlessness during the performance ruined the whole show for everyone.

If you feel that you are so much more important than the rest of civilized society and that your calls, conversations and texts outweigh the standards of polite decency for those around you, maybe you should stay HOME!

This is not just a problem amongst out youth. At a performance of a Suzi Award winning play last year, a gentleman in his late seventies or early eighties received a text during the show and took his time texting back. After several minutes of glaring light, his wife finally asked him to put it away. Can’t blame the young for everything.

When did we lose our politeness and concern for others in our presence? My parents took my brother and me to movies, the theatre, the circus, restaurants, Holiday on Ice (Cheers to you if you are old enough for that reference.) and other events. They guided us in how we should act. They usually wanted us to be as calm and polite as we were in church or at a funeral. We also got the “fear of God” look from my father if we acted up and we knew he would honestly never take us anywhere again. We were a reflection of our parents, in public. (My brother and I bickered and fought like cats and dogs at home. We were far from perfect.)

But somewhere, those parental social skills stopped being taught. A few years before my father passed away, as we sat in a popular chain restaurant in Franklin, TN, the unthinkable happened. A woman in her thirties with four children under the age of about seven at her table was chatting away on her cell phone. The youngest proceeded to play under the table on the floor of the restaurant. Delightful! Without her knowledge or should I say without interrupting her phone call, the little one crawled a good ten feet away under our table and across my father’s feet. I think I forgot to take a breath as my father usually would have said something out loud and unfiltered. But he didn’t. He just had a sad look in his eyes. The same sad look I have when something like that happens to me.

Just turn your damn cell phones off folks! Nothing is that important for a couple of hours.

3 Comments

  1. Love, love, LOVE this entry! You are a great writer!

  2. Misty Whitlock

    OMG – people behaving rudely with their cell phones is the reason I have only seen 2 movies in the theater in the past 2 years. People are so inconsiderate and oblivious nowadays. I’ve found they are a little better in a live theater, but even then you’ll get at least one loud cell ringing during the performance. This is exceptionally rude to the hardworking actors AND the audience who have paid to peacefully watch a show.

    And you’re right – the perpetrator’s age varies. Sometimes it’s teenagers, sometimes it’s well-dressed, middle-aged women, and sometimes it’s grandpas. Pathetic. Good for Mr. Williamson. That theatre should be ashamed of throwing him out, especially since they allowed the situation to escalate with that awful woman.

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