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Campaign aims to improve audience etiquette

Photo: Pawel Libera
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More than 1,200 theatregoers have pledged to keep their mobile phones turned off during performances as part of a campaign to improve audience etiquette.

Audience members have agreed to ensure their phones are off before the lights go down and to “never” check their devices during the show “for any reason”.

The campaign asks people to sign up to a theatre charter, which includes rules such as never filming or photographing action onstage and remembering to be quiet and still once the performance has begun.

Theatregoers should never leave a show mid-performance “unless for medical or emergency reasons,” the guidance states. “If bored, leave discreetly at the interval,” it adds.

The charter also states that audience members should remove any items they may need from their bags prior to the lights going down and must only unwrap sweets before the show commences or during loud applause.

Theatre sales and advertising consultant Richard Gresham, who created the charter, said the campaign was an “attempt to instruct the casual and future audience members as to what is acceptable behaviour”.

The campaign has received support from Stephen Fry, who re-tweeted the link to the online theatre charter after asking followers: “How many times has a mobile gone off when you’re at the theatre? Sign and RT.”

It follows a string of incidents in which audience behaviour has disrupted shows.

A recent performance of Athol Fugard’s Statements at the Jermyn Street Theatre in London was interrupted by a man allegedly filming the two naked actors onstage. This followed an incident last month at the Old Vic in London when Kevin Spacey shouted at an audience member who was using their mobile phone during his performance in Clarence Darrow.

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