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5 Cell Phone Rules for the Theater


Just turn the cell phone off. It's that simple. Right? Wrong.

Some people seem never to get the message so here are five cell phone rules for the theater.

1. Turn It Off!

If we all followed this rule, there wouldn't be any more. So keep it simple. Shut it off.

There is nothing more distracting than the ringing phone. Everyone has paid to see the show, and you owe your fellow audience members the courtesy.

2. It's Not Enough to Silence It

Nearly all theaters rely on a complex array of amplification and communication equipment. A silenced phone still receives incoming calls and routinely receives data updates from your provider. You hear the effects of these transmissions when you use your phone near a computer, and the speakers begin buzzing.

In a theater where actors use remote microphones, this can buzz through to the theater's speakers.

But even if the actors aren't miked, the technical staff will be communicating through headsets, and they don't want to hear your phone buzzing either.

Additionally, incoming calls to a silenced phone still turn all the phone's lights on. It's a major distraction to those near you.

3. It's Also Not Enough to Deactivate It

OK, so you can deactivate the transmission function of your phone. That's OK, then. Right? Just like on an airplane.


The difference between deactivating your cell on an airplane and deactivating it in a theater is the slowly blnking light that many phones have now don't bother people in an airplane.

Phones often go in a purse or bag under a seat. You don't see the blinking light, but the person behind you does. Sometimes, even the actors on stage can.

4. Pull That Blue Tooth

I attended an off-Broadway show at which a couple sat directly in front of me. Both had phone earpieces. Both of them flashed a small blue light.

Of course, the lights were on the back of the earpieces, invisible to them, unmissable to me.

And it's not just the person behind you that you're bothering. After the lights went down, and it became intolerable, I had to ask the couple to remove the the devices, and my talking distracted everyone within five seats.

5. See Rule No. 1

The simpest, and, in fact, only solution is to turn your phone off. If it's a babysitter or work issue, leave the phone number of the theater with the sitter or your office for can't-wait emergencies. Surely anything short of that can wait until intermission for you to check messages.

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