philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Filming the Show: Pardon the Intrusion? Or Punish It?

“It’s turned into a battle over who belongs, and who gets to set the rules,” said Kirsty Sedgman, a lecturer in theater at the University of Bristol and the author of “The Reasonable Audience,” a book about contemporary debates over theater etiquette.

“Everyone goes into the theater thinking their own personal vision of what theater should be like is clearly the right one,” said Dr. Sedgman, who noted that expectations that audiences will be reverential date only to the 19th century, and that in Shakespeare’s time patrons were famously rowdy.

This fall Lincoln Center will make four concerts in its White Light Festival cellphone-free, using Yondr, a service where audience members can stash their devices in locked pouches during performances. The service said this will be its first use in classical music. (Both Madonna and Rihanna have used Yondr to create phone-free spaces at their own events — Madonna for her Madame X tour, and Rihanna for her Savage x Fenty show.)

But others are trying to embrace the digitally tethered: Some orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, have experimented with letting people keep their phones on during some concerts and offer an app to guide people through the music. The Boston Symphony Orchestra does this, too, at select “Casual Fridays” concerts, in certain designated seats.

And then there are the compromises: When Bruce Springsteen was on Broadway in 2017 and last year, the production put an insert in the Playbill, urging fans accustomed to rock concerts not to use their phones during the show, but promising that Mr. Springsteen would stay onstage during the curtain call long enough for people to take pictures. The Metropolitan Opera offers similar advice on its website: “Tip: Snap a pic of the cast during curtain call!”

“I feel violated in my rights, of my artistic property,” she said, noting that unauthorized filming is illegal. “

The audience expressed its approval of her stance, she said, and “erupted in long, powerful applause.”

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