West End actors condemn filming shows on mobile phones
Phones in theatres have a mixed response
West End stars have condemned the filming of stage shows.
Moulin Rouge!'s Duke Simon Bailey prompted the reaction yesterday, tweeting: "Stop. Filming. The. Show. You’re. Watching. It’s never sneaky, we always see you, we always complain about you and you ruin it for everyone around you. I guarantee the memory is better than a grainy video or blurry picture."
Bailey had previously reflected on the filming of shows, saying: "Aren't we supposed to be against filming from phones in the theatre?", when footage of the first preview of Frozen on Broadway was released in 2017.
Many ushers and front-of-house staff are tasked with preventing the filming of shows, with pre-show announcements and prominent signage. Taylor Jay, who works front of house at The Other Palace during the London run of Heathers tweeted earlier this year saying: "Please stop filming the show – our theatre is tiny and we can literally see your phone! We get told every time someone attends who’s been caught filming/seen posting about it on social media, too."
Earlier this year, controversy arose over the filming of a strictly no-phones-allowed production of the Tony Award-winning Broadway Take Me Out, where photos of a naked Jesse Williams were leaked online. The event prompting a negative response from the actor.
Acknowledging their power in promoting shows, some productions encourage filming at very specific moments in the performance. These include the "Mega-Six" in Six the Musical, where audiences are told to "get your phones out" to capture the closing moments of the award-winning piece.
Earlier this year, Legally Blonde star Isaac Hesketh tweeted an alternative perspective, saying: "Bootlegs are not that serious. They’re actually amazing and the only way theatre is accessible to 90 per cent of people. People who can afford theatre tickets don’t sit at home and watch a bootleg instead...Without bootlegs or film versions of musicals, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with the industry."
The discussion over phones in theatres is unlikely to go away – Come From Away star Alice Fearn recently tweeted about how disruptive they can be. While acknowledging that "some people might be waiting on important news or might need to be contactable in an emergency" and that "silent/vibrate is better than off completely", she added that "loud sodding ice cream van ringtones at the end of "Me and the Sky" is not nice for anyone."