Following Benedict Cumberbatch’s recent lamentations about audience members recording and taking pictures of theatre productions (see Teaching Drama, Autumn 1), it seems that the problem had failed to switch off.
The latest actor to bring to light the increasing problem of smart phone users not turning off their devices during performances, Dame Judi Dench has expressed concerns over poor theatre conduct. ‘I can’t see well,’ she told the Sunday Times Culture magazine, ‘but what I can see is red lights all over the theatre, and I know that’s people taking photographs.’
Currently starring as Paulina in Kenneth Branagh’s The Winter’s Tale at the Garrick Theatre in London’s West End, Dench’s call for audience members to cease mobile phone usage comes following a similar plea from Cumberbatch to fans outside the Barbican. Kevin Spacey has also criticised poor theatre etiquette, following an audience member’s phone ringing, and James McAvoy halted a performance of Macbeth to stop someone filming. Perhaps most absurd of these cases, however, took place earlier this year on New York’s Broadway, when a man jumped on stage during Hand of God to charge his phone on set.