As someone who used to perform classical vocal concerts and recitals, I can't tell you how upsetting it is that someone's phone goes off, but even worse is when they do not try to silence it ASAP. We don't have the luxury of holding a scene, let alone saying anything, so I applaud the actor for trying to continue. Knowing which loud, old ringtone he's talking about, it's hard not to lose your concentration.
Maybe she was almost deaf?
Might it be possible that she didn't try to turn it off because she didn't want everyone to realize it was her phone?
And yes, Aliza was fantastic, and I was glad to see an actor so strong and physically changeable get to do that part. In 2009 I cast her in Steve Martin's The Underpants, and won't hesitate to admit I thought I'd made a terrible mistake. She clomped around with her face in her script, marking time while the rest of the cast developed. But she listened to everything, asked more (and better) questions than I'm accustomed to. I was nervous. And then she put the book down and it was like someone had poured a new person out of a mold. And that new person never stopped listening, asking, or growing. I've got a lot of respect for that entire cast, but might have found it in my heart to skip this three-or-four-peat if it wasn't for the chance to see Aliza Moran call a cat a cocksucker.
@Waxy, I loved the cast, set, sound design, etc. Have real problems with the script, which I'll get into in the review. At the end of the day, I think the scenes between the couple are redundant. And it's slightly mysogonist. The play, not the characters, who are mostly easy to love. (Which makes it slightly insidious). Extremely well done, though. Review Wed. I hope.
Mr. Davis, rude patrons abound. Unfortunately, I see no definitive actions that can truly deter their propensity for rudeness.
More importantly, how did you like Sylvia? Will we see a review?
Personally, I loved it! I haven't laughed that hard in a long while. Ms. Moran was simply amazing!
The issue is how we chose to respect art and artists.
Several years ago I went to the see the Jean-Louis Foraine exhibit at the Dixon. I was carrying my moleskine journal and when I pulled out an ink pen to take notes, one of the security guards told me that I couldn't use a pen, I'd have to use a pencil. Not long after, I was pointing at a particular painting when another guard warned me about holding my hand too close to the painting.
In the moment each of these reprimands felt unnecessary, mostly because I felt embarrassed. But I realized two things. One was that these paintings are largely unprotected--they're vulnerable to carelessness. The other is that I really loved the exhibit and despite my faux pas and correction, I'm glad for the sake of the artwork that the security guards confronted me.
All live performance audiences, including these ladies, are capable of damaging art like a play, ballet, or concert in the same way. A live performance is not a video. We've become so comfortable with remote controls and mute buttons allowing us to pause our entertainment, and cell phones to interrupt, that we've become desensitized to realities and value of a live performance. And, simply because "Sylvia" is not immortalized in the Muse d'Orsey in Paris, like Foraine, doesn't mean that it's not valuable art. All artists make a huge leap of trust in their performances, and every audience needs to respect this, regardless of where they are.
No, it's not acceptable for an actor to break character, even in the face of the much less acceptable telephone ringing on the stage, even though I feel Mr. Isbell's behavior is understandable. The real culprit here is the theater. Unfortunately, I feel we're at a place where theaters need to monitor the behavior of patrons who act so disrespectfully to other actors, audience members, and the theater itself. I think people should be kicked out of performances where this happens.
My favorite performances at Theatre Memphis have been on the Next Stage. But I pay to see a play, not a scene with the audience. So I'm sorry, but I don't want to see actors berate the audience for accidents. I've seen similar things happen in church before cell phones were even in existence, when a preacher would call out a parishioner for talking. It became nearly twice as unpleasant a situation as it would have been otherwise.
Accidents may "happen" but everyone in attendance is reminded about this. Every performance. This woman - out of naive embarrassment? - didn't bother to correct her "accident."
What a maroon.
Bravo to Tony Isbell. It's bad enough that performance spaces have to remind everyone to turn their phone off (like it isn't obvious), but she actively ignored it? The scene was already broken, she should have been escorted out of the theatre, to a chorus of "shame, shame, shame." Actually, this should become a thing.
Based on the events described, no, I don't think the actor overreacted.
At this point in cell phone usage, everyone knows that you are to shut your phone off prior to a live performance or movie. However, not everyone does, as we know.
Even if the woman came in late and forgot to turn off her cell, to allow it to ring so many times and to ignore an actor's request to turn it off is mind boggling. You could post her picture up in all theaters around town, the way places used to post people's names who wrote bad checks. ;)
Completely agree with Isbell. The incident reminds me of a story I read about John Barrymore, who grew so annoyed with persistent coughing from the audience that he took a fish out of his pocket, tossed it at the crowd, and said "Here, you d@mned walruses; have some of this so I can finish the show!"
Good for you!
Tony Isbell should get an Ostrander for not pummeling those women. Any chance that A] the reason they were so close to the stage, and B) the reason they failed to stop the ringing is because they didn't think it was so loud, and C) the reason the ring was so loud is the fact that its owner is DEAF?
Tony's my hero.
Jeff Pope, on the Next Stage there is really no way for the staff to intervene that wouldn't have been far more intrusive than what I did. The logistics of the way the space is set up just make it impossible.
Why did the staff not intervene? I understand the annoyance of the actor, but stopping the show and taking the rest of the audience out of the world that an actor spends a lot of time creating does nothing but make that moment the topic of discussion for the rest of the night.
Am conflicted on this one. Haven't been onstage since cell phones became commonplace. Not sure I'm entitled to a strong opinion either way for that reason.
No doubt the offending patron was in err, but yes, accidents do happen. The flippant attitude to the faux pas however....hmmmmm.
Tony, I'm with you. I don't have much sympathy for the offending parties in these circumstances, but know that embarrassment can paralyze. So, I have a dollop.
Idiots happen, too.
People whose phones ring during a performance should be escorted from the premises by the bouncers. "Out you two pixies go, through the door or out the window."
By Joe Boone
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