Lost in Yonkers with unwrapped candy and ringing cell phones

There is nothing that I love more than live theatre – whether starring in a production or taking one in.  Unfortunately, due to motherhood, my time is limited to do either.  But, this past week, I got a “Mommy Night Out.”  I actually donned a cute outfit, applied REAL make-up and went to see my friend, Kelly, tear up the stage in a fantastic production of Lost in Yonkers at the Repertory East Playhouse (which by the way, only plays for 2 more weekends, for you LA folk, and is something NOT to miss).

Unfortunately, though, the experience wasn’t everything that it could have been because of fellow theatre patrons, who obviously need to be briefed on some common-sense “do’s and don’ts” when taking in a live show.  As an actor myself, this is something I’m passionate about.  And guess what?  Now you get to be enlightened.

Presenting Brooke’s tips of what to do when watching a play:

  • Turn off your cell phone – I get that we live in the age of “constant communication.”  But, guess what?  The world is going to keep on movin’ and shakin’ while you’re out of pocket for 2-2.5 hours and you really will be able to catch up.  I promise.  So, turn off your cell phone.  You can always check it at intermission.  During my “night out at the theatre,” a woman sitting front row — literally spitting distance to the actors – gets a call in the middle of one of the most intense moments of the show.  If that wasn’t enough, she couldn’t find the damn thing to turn it off.  When she finally did, she then felt the need to exclaim … OUT LOUD … “I can’t believe my phone rang?”  We can’t either, lady!  And, I can’t believe you felt the need to let us know, too!
  • Ta-ta to texting – Similar to #1, must you text during a play?  Or check your e-mail?  Those screens on your smartphones illuminate quite brightly.  And believe it or not, we can hear those buttons clicking away.  So can the actors (I speak from personal experience on that one). You can update your Facebook page or Tweet to the world later.
  • Unwrap your candies before the show – It’s winter, and coughs linger.  That’s cool. But, how about unwrapping all of your lozenges before the show starts?  You may think that you are being very quiet, but you would be amazed at how much a one-inch square piece of paper makes when wrapped around a sticky piece of medicine.  C’mon people.
  • Take a nap earlier in the day – If are prone to falling asleep in dark places, be it a movie theatre or a live playhouse, then take a nap during the day.  The lady directly next to me missed that memo, dozed off, fell to the left with her head hanging in my space and proceeded to snore.  I kid you not.  I did mention I was on the second row, right?  Again, you’re taking away from my theatre-going experience and giving one hell of an insult to the actors.  Simply leave at intermission if you are so bored.  THAT would be more courteous.
  • And finally…SHUT UP!!!! – One of the things that makes live theatre so rewarding for an actor is the energy you get from an audience.  You know when they are with you, and when they are not.  We love laughter.  We love tears.  But, people … we don’t need vocal commentary.  The lady behind me felt the intense need to audibly express how cold she was every time the air conditioner came on.  Then, she did her best to lobby support from her fellow patrons around her … while the show was underway.  She even approached the theatre manager at intermission to rally for her cause (she lost, by the way).  Why she was cold, I have no idea.  Based on the size parka she was wearing, she must have flown in from Iceland for the show.  Do you best people and keep the commentary to yourself.

I know these all sound like common sense.  But, you would be surprised at how often these simple rules are violated.  Live theatre is nothing like going to the movies.  In a movie theatre, Julia Roberts and George Clooney can’t feel when someone is being rude like answering a phone or talking incessantly.  But, in a live production, it’s a whole different ballgame.  You have have real human beings up there, pouring their heart and soul into a performance to try and elicit some sort of emotion from you.  They are giving you a gift.  Granted, sometimes the gift is not that good.  But, it always deserves respect.

Thanks for listening.  Here’s hoping you help all of us actors and support a live theatre production in your town soon…sans cell phone!


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