Mobiles at the theatre: a new era of 'casual standards'
One in three theatre-goers risk wrath of actors by checking their phones during live performances
ONCE the epitome of refinement, an evening at the theatre is now likely to include casually-dressed audience members tweeting and checking their phones.
A survey of 1,500 people, carried out by Ticketmaster, reveals a new "code of conduct" considered acceptable by modern audiences.
It found that three-quarters of theatre-goers have recently dressed casually for performances. One-fifth had taken photographs during a live show and one in ten thought it was acceptable to tweet or use social media at live shows.
A third of people said they had checked their phones during performances, with people aged between 25 and 34 twice as likely to find it acceptable.
Alistair Smith, editor of The Stage, says the changing idea of what is deemed acceptable at the theatre was an "unintended consequence" of the drive for broader audiences. "I think that for quite a long time, probably at least a decade, it's been gradually getting less formal," he says.
The Daily Telegraph says the drive for younger audiences – with companies allowing 'comfortable' dress and vastly discounted tickets – seems to have "ushered in an era of more casual standards".
But mobile phone addicts beware: actors have been known to berate audience members for interrupting their shows.
Kevin Spacey – still in character as Richard III – singled out the owner of a noisy mobile phone at a Sydney theatre in 2011 and bellowed "Tell them we're busy!" On another occasion he even shone a laser light at some people who were rustling and whispering.
Hugh Jackman broke character while starring in the Broadway play A Steady Rain in 2009 when his performance was interrupted by a ringing phone. "You wanna get that?" he asked. "You wanna get it, grab it, I don't care, grab it, grab your phone, doesn't matter."
While the late Richard Griffiths banished a number of audience members from his shows when their mobile phones rang out. ·