A Wednesday letter in the Star Tribune seems like an invitation to engage in one of our favorite spectator sports: watching and listening to theater- and concert-goers blow the whistle on their audience mates.
Katherine Kleingartner of Minneapolis kicks things off after she got to finally see “Hamilton,” currently playing in the Minneapolis theater district.
She brings up a good point: What on earth could be more interesting on your phone than what’s happening on stage?
After eight months of anticipation, I finally got to cash in my “Hamilton” ticket at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. The show exceeded expectations. I was thrilled and I came away with a couple of observations.
Apparently, despite the announcement at the beginning of the show to do so, people will not turn their phones off for two hours and 45 minutes. Muting sound is one thing, but please know that the glow from your screens is devastatingly distracting to those of us behind you. Turn the dang things off. It’s live theater, and it is worthy of your full attention.
Secondly, it will be impossible for most women to use the bathroom in the 15 minutes of intermission during this show, so I don’t know … don’t drink anything for two days in advance. The line was nearly around the block for the women’s restroom and the lights flashed to end the intermission before I even found the end of the line.
I love theater in this great city. The bathroom situation at these classic old theaters can’t be helped, but the phone thing is just good manners. And I know you have good manners.
Over the weekend, we tried out the new Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Woodbury, which aims to revolutionize how people watch a movie: they require you to watch the movie.
The rules couldn’t be more clear or stark. If you show up once the movie starts, you don’t get in. If you look at your cellphone during the movie, they’ll throw you out.
We have zero tolerance for talking or using a cell phone of any kind during films. We’ll kick you out, promise. We’ve got backup.
And if you miss the rules, they’ll tell you again before the movie starts.
Also, they don’t allow little kids in.
The effort is literally trying to change the entire American entertainment culture, which is fine because, as Kleingartner points out, it’s desperately in need of changing.