In Friday’s (6/17) Guardian (London), Mark Lawson writes, “The opera-going former politician David Mellor has reportedly taken to remonstrating with members of the audience who insist on chattering in counterpoint to the sound from the stage. … Mellor is fighting a losing battle. I spend much of each week sitting in audiences—theatrical, cinematic, operatic—and there has clearly been a sharp shift in the etiquette. Sometimes the most quiet and attentive patrons I encounter are to be found during my footballing afternoon off from the arts. … During the first scene of a preview of the new revival of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, Kristin Scott Thomas and Douglas Henshall were drowned out by a theatregoer taking calls on a mobile who was not only answering loudly but clomping noisily out on each occasion, while shouting the odds with their partner. The actors seemed on the brink of walking off. … Although mobiles now rarely ring more than twice in a performance, many ticket-holders regard it as acceptable manners to text or tweet their minute-by-minute reactions. During a recent evening at the RSC, a group of schoolchildren seemed to be texting each other. As a result, many playhouses have upgraded their mobiles announcement to include the caution that the ‘vibration and flashing of devices in silent mode’ can also put off actors.”

Posted June 17, 2011