The Parthenon

Is theater etiquette dead?

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Facebook can wait, you’re watching a play

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Sleeping, texting and using a flashlight app are all activities that have a time and a place in our lives. Where those activities don’t belong, however, is in the theater.

Nothing is more disturbing to devoted playgoers or the performers than a distracted audience.

The theater is crowded and you’re looking for a seat. There are a few open, but many of them have purses, coats or other items in them. Being the courteous theatergoer you are, you assume the seats are taken, as the show is sold out and people are lined-up hoping for open seats. They’re not. People are taking up seats for their belongings when there aren’t even enough seats for everyone who paid to attend.

Imagine that you are sitting in a dark theater completely immersed in the plot, when the person right next to you receives a call, rejects it and then proceeds to text (presumably the person who called) for the duration of the show.

If the show can’t capture your attention well enough to keep you off your phone or keep you from falling asleep, just leave.”

Now imagine that a couple of rows in front of you a woman accidentally drops something on the floor, so in order to find it she turns on the flashlight app from her phone and proceeds to do so.

Now, on the other side of you, a young woman is perusing Facebook from her mobile device, but not to worry, long before the first act is over, she will have nodded off — that’s not distracting.

If the show can’t capture your attention well enough to keep you off your phone or keep you from falling asleep, just leave. It is exponentially ruder for you to stay and do those things than it would be for you to get up and leave quietly.

Furthermore, at a sold-out performance, it’s difficult not to think that someone else (who would actually enjoy the show) might have liked to have your seat.

Somehow, we have gotten away from the common-courtesy of attending a live performance. When did it become acceptable to leave your phone on, after you have been asked once, sometimes more, to turn it off? Why does the cell phone even have to come into the theater?

If you can’t give the performers (who have likely been working on this nonstop for weeks) your full attention, do them a favor and stay home.

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