If you’re going to break with decorum send text messages from the theater during a live performance, you do not want to get caught in the act by Patti LuPone—especially when the stage legend is in the middle of an act herself.
During an off-Broadway performance last night (July 8) of Douglas Carter Beane’s new play, Shows for Days, LuPone grabbed a cell phone from someone in the audience as she exited her scene. LuPone, the winner of two Tonys and two Grammys, later issued a rageful statement to Playbill.com about etiquette in live performances. Her frustration had her threatening to quit theater altogether:
“We work hard on stage to create a world that is being totally destroyed by a few, rude, self-absorbed and inconsiderate audience members who are controlled by their phones. They cannot put them down. When a phone goes off or when a LED screen can be seen in the dark it ruins the experience for everyone else – the majority of the audience at that performance and the actors on stage. I am so defeated by this issue that I seriously question whether I want to work on stage anymore. Now I’m putting battle gear on over my costume to marshall (sic) the audience as well as perform.”
Audience members reacted on Twitter (hopefully after the show):
It’s not LuPone’s first time at lashing out at rude phone addicts: In January 2009, midway through singing “Rose’s Turn” during a performance of Gypsy, LuPone unleashed fury on an audience member who had been snapping photos. “We have forgotten our public manners,” she lamented.
The glare and pings from cell phones cause problems in live performances that are frustrating for both actors as well as audience members, and there’s no reason to believe things are going to improve. It’s no surprise that some cultural purists are seeking a hard-line solution.