Friday, March 20, 2009

Every Day A Phone Rings In Act Two

I think this is a serious functional and, actually, aesthetic issue that should be approached a little more creatively than it has been approached so far.  The piped announcements before shows certainly do something to remind people to turn off their phones, although they should probably stop advising people to turn off their beepers since Clinton is no longer in office.  I have noticed also announcements cropping up after intermission is over, at the Northlight this even includes the sound of a ringing phone before the message, which I think helps.  

Nevertheless, every day a phone rings in act two.  I remember when I lost one of my front teeth in a swimming accident, I got a fake tooth put in and the dentist taught me the new way I needed to brush my teeth to take care of the fake one.  I asked him how long I would have to do this.  He answered: Forever.  It's a trivial example but one of the first times I really understood permanence.  We have no reason to believe that at some point in the future everyone will always remember to keep their phones off and that no phones will never ring. This is a new problem - people have always coughed, always fallen asleep, always spoken during performances -  but we can believe phones ringing during the show to be at least a semi-permanent condition of the theater.  What will we do?

Sometimes a live announcement helps, I've even watched people from the stage ask everyone to pull out their phones and turn them off together.  This is kind of cute and pretty effective, I imagine, even if it does feel like summer camp.  I think there is something to that reinforcement of the community, a ringing phone affects everyone.  

But what I'm really wondering is if there's a way to manage this from the stage, I'm not sure what form this would take, but I think it's worth investigating.  


skratchykat said...

Phones ring in church. Phones ring in waiting rooms. They'll never go away. I heard there is a device that jams them, but have yet to see it. Wishful thinking.

Benedict Nelson said...

I've heard of that, I think they're currently illegal in America. What I mean is exactly what you're saying, they're not going away so how do we deal with it? Just grit our teeth forever? Treat them as coughs? Is there something else we can do to endure them that isn't so impotent?