Actress takes a stand against texting in the audience

Theater-goers, what on earth is wrong with you?

You buy tickets to a show, and then you spend part of it on your phone texting.

Who raised you?

Patti LuPone, an actress in “Shows for Days,” playing at New York’s Lincoln Center, had enough Wednesday evening when she took the phone of a woman in the audience.

In a scene where she is supposed to go into the audience, LuPone snatched the woman’s phone and walked out, WNBC reports.

We work hard on stage to create a world that is being totally destroyed by a few, rude, self-absorbed and inconsiderate audience members who are controlled by their phones,” LuPone said in a statement.

“They cannot put them down. When a phone goes off or when a LED screen can be seen in the dark it ruins the experience for everyone else –- the majority of the audience at that performance and the actor on stage.

“I am so defeated by this issue that I seriously question whether I want to work on stage anymore.” LuPone continued. “Now I’m putting battle gear on over my costume to marshal the audience as well as perform.”

“This woman — a very pretty young woman — was sitting with her boyfriend or husband,” she tells the New York Times.

We could see her text. She was so uninterested. She showed her husband what she was texting. We talked about it at intermission. When we went out for the second act I was very close to her, and she was still texting. I watched her and thought, “What am I going to do?”

At the very end of that scene, we all exit. What I normally do is shake the hand of the people in the front row. I just walked over to her, shook her hand and took her phone. I walked offstage and handed it to the stage manager, who gave it to the house manager.

“Theater is not a social event,” she said.

  • Now THAT’S how you do it!

  • Al


  • PaulJ

    That’s the usher’s job not some self-absorbed actor’s who thinks they are not getting enough attention. And even if you think you are hiding your screen, in a dark theater, you’re not.

    • Mike

      Agreed, the usher should have taken care of that issue during the intermission.

    • joetron2030

      The folks at the Emily Post Institute say that in situations like this, a person with standing should be the one to make that decision. In this case, an usher or theater manager. Though, I do wonder if the actors on stage are considered to have standing… Might have to ask Lizzie and Dan on their FB page.

      • crystals

        I’m guessing the vast majority of audience members would take the message a heck of a lot more seriously from Patti LuPone than from an usher or theater manager. (Which is part of the problem, right? That people might put their phone down for a sec if it’s *just* the usher who tells them. Sigh.)

        • joetron2030


        • Jeff

          It seems like there should be more of a public shaming component, it sounds to me like she was too subtle about it. I read that in the past she has stopped the show and pointed at the offender. This sends a message.

      • robotczar

        No usher who values their job is going to take a phone or even chastise a patron. Way to distract from the point, though. People do many inconsiderate things performances, texting is clearly one of them. Texting is a problem in more situations, driving for one. Walking, standing in line, etc. are others.

        • joetron2030

          It’s their JOB to make the performance enjoyable for ALL of the theatergoers. That means if there are people disrupting the performance, it’s their JOB to address the issue.

          It’s not distracting from the point at all.

    • crystals

      But an usher DIDN’T take care of it, so she did. And I’m glad she did – maybe it will spark the ushers to do it moving forward, or maybe it will keep the idiots from texting in her shows from now on. Whatever happens or doesn’t from here on out: more power to her.

      • joetron2030

        Well, the question that appears unanswered is whether anyone bothered to notify the ushers, other audience members or the actors. If not, then the ushers may not have known.

    • Al

      I suspect Patti LuPone is FAR beyond the point of needing to feel like she’s ‘getting enough attention.’ She’s freaking Patti LuPone.

  • chris

    Honestly the cell phone addiction on display everywhere always is one of the saddest things in our culture. It can ruin a theater experience for the people sitting behind a texter and it takes lives when someone can’t put the phone away while they’re driving. More people need to stand up and call out rude cell phone behavior.

  • joetron2030

    I watched it happen about a month or so ago during our school’s 5th graders’ presentation event. A parent was busy looking at his phone instead of giving a group of kids give their presentation. Yes, their presentation was rambling. Yes, it was too warm in the room. Yes, it wasn’t a great presentation. But, those kids worked hard and were up in front of an audience giving it their best.

    Seriously disrespectful. I tend to give that guy the stink-eye whenever I see him at other school functions now.

  • Jeff

    On the subject of pet peeves, The New Pornographers (and others) ban video during concerts. I’m not exactly sure why but it’s so much better experience when there’s not a dozen phones glowing between me and the stage.

  • Jack Ungerleider

    You would think a ticket price of $87 would be enough incentive for people to pay attention to the show on stage. But I guess not.