My new standard for when a play is working

I’m going crazy over the amount of texting going on in the theatre these days. Do people not imagine it’s driving those around them crazy?

I saw a very bad production of Jon Jory’s not very inventive adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice” in Orlando back in February. (more on this tomorrow)  People were taking phone calls, texting, even some joker on the far side of the theatre was sending messages, the light of his phone was brighter than the stage lights.

I even chewed out one young theatre goer in Silver Spring at a matinee last month.  I’m becoming the crabby old lady I always accused my mother of being.

But then I realized the only time people were taking out their phones was when the play dragged. Nothing interesting was happening onstage. They were bored. And frankly, so was I.

I tested this theory at a few plays that really worked. No one reached for a cellphone. Not a single text.  

So here’s my new standard of finding out when a play is working well: when nobody even thinks about taking out their phone. They are too enthralled in the action of the play. They care about the characters. They want to know what happens next.

THAT’s the kind of play I want to write!

About Kitty Felde

Award-winning public radio journalist, writer, and TEDx speaker Kitty Felde hosts the Book Club for Kids podcast, named by The Times of London as one of the top 10 kidcasts in the world. The Los Angeles native created the Washington bureau for Southern California Public Radio and covered Capitol Hill for nearly a decade, explaining how government works to grownups. Now she explains it to kids in a series of mystery novels and podcasts called The Fina Mendoza Mysteries. Kitty was named LA Radio Journalist of the Year three times by the LA Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.

4 thoughts on “My new standard for when a play is working

  1. I wonder how hard it would be for the audience to text the play. There’s a whole level of technology to be explored. Fun!

  2. I’ve noticed that, too. I also find that if the audience is very much a part of the experience- i.e. site specific or the set wraps around them or the actors can enter from anywhere, that cuts down on the audience’s need for more stimulation. Or, when the pace is fast enough, like on tv, that it takes your whole brain to listen. You’d think going to see a play would be enough, but, alas, tiz the timez. People need a LOT to be engaged. Your plays can, do, and will succeed at this, Mama Webb.

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