You in Row F, Put Away That Cell Phone!

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At a performance the other day, the guy across the aisle from me had his cell phone on and open, sending e-mail. During the performance. A dozen rows in front of him, people were giving their all, but it never occurred to Mr. E-mail that he was being unspeakably rude to them, and to those around him who were participating in the show.

I say participating, because live performance is a participatory event. Back when I sang for school kids who were much more used to watching a T.V. or computer screen than live human beings, I made a point of telling them that a live show is a two-way street. People onstage can see and hear the audience. (Like Santa, they know when you’ve been naughty or nice.) In addition to giving energy, performers draw energy from a good audience, which enhances the experience for everyone concerned.

But how to point this out to Mr. E-mail, in the middle of Act II? Fortunately, someone in front of me took matters in hand, silently winging a program across the aisle at him. It made the point.