This week I rant about audience members not respecting theater.
I wanted to see The Mountaintop with Angela Bassett and Samuel L. Jackson since September. I got to see it this week in a nick of time as it closed this past weekend. The experience of seeing movie stars work on the stage, in the flesh, is extra special for me. It’s an honor to share the same creative space with them. I felt that honor when I saw Private Lives with Kim Cattrall; Proof with Jennifer Jason Leigh; Inherit the Wind with Christopher Plummer and Brian Dennehy (Al Pacino happened to be in the audience – so cool).
Yet, others don’t feel the same way. I am constantly distracted. This time I near fell off The Mountaintop…but didn’t.
Picture it: The people in front of me and next to me texted throughout the performance. I have done theater long enough to know how to keep my focus but not for nothing, it is really hard to stay focused when the lights are down and all of sudden I am blinded by the light of a cell phone. Towards the end of The Mountaintop, which is about the night before Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and his last moments at the Lorraine Motel, three people who were sitting in front of me got up to go to the bathroom. While they were gone, Angela Bassett closes the show with a beautiful and moving monologue to the audience. We were so moved. I am sure not a dry eye in the house. The audience members returned after the applause died down. All I could think was, “Wow, you just missed the opportunity to see a multi-award winning actress give a performance..in the flesh.”
But that’s how it is at all the shows I go to see. In the last year, this is what I observed:
Someone forgot to turn their iPod off (their playlist was on repeat)
Forgetting to turn off phones
Getting up in the middle of an intense moment
Saying the lines with the actors
All I am saying is please don’t blind me with your phone when the lights go down at the theatre. And give the actors the respect of tuning into the work that they are doing on that stage. Here’s a tidbit…if you can hear them, they can hear you.