A New Weapon for Battling Cellphones in Theaters: Laser Beams

Ushers aiming lasers at a patron using a cellphone at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing. Credit Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times

Excerpt from this article:

Audience members using cellphones bedevil performers and presenters around the world. But in China, theaters and other venues have adopted what they say is an effective — others might say disturbing — solution.

Zap them with a laser beam.

The approach varies, but the idea is the same. During a performance, ushers equipped with laser pointers are stationed above, or on the perimeter of, the audience. When they spot a lighted mobile phone, instead of dashing over to the offender, they pounce with a pointer (usually red or green), aiming it at the glowing screen until the user desists.

Call it laser shaming.

Xu Chun, 27, who was in the audience for “Carmen” at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing last month, said: “Of course it’s distracting. But seeing lighted-up screens is even more distracting.”

This may be a response to a particularly acute problem here. Audience numbers have surged in recent years, along with the number of new performance spaces. And theatergoers are often noticeably younger than in the United States and Europe, with a corresponding lack of experience with Western-style concert etiquette. The lasers, theater managers say, are part of a larger effort to teach audiences how to behave during live performances.


Sexual performance: Theatre works tackle internet porn

(Credit: Getty Images)

Excerpt from this article (it’s on the BBC, it’s safe to open at work):

For theatre to be relevant, it can’t ignore technological developments and their impact on our lives. Yet staging technology is famously hard to do well – people staring at computer screens is theatrically inert, but go too hard on the techno-wizardry and you risk no longer feeling theatrical at all.

The problem, you might imagine, would only be compounded when dealing with one of the most vexed aspects of online culture: internet porn. And yet this hot topic for media debate is also finding its way onto theatre stages – not literally, I hasten to add. Playwrights are finding dramatically inventive ways to ask questions about how easily accessible hard-core pornography might be influencing our society.

And if you’re thinking this is a niche concern for late-night feminist fringe shows – well, you’d only be partly correct. There have been breakout hits from Edinburgh in recent years on online sex and sexualisation: consider Bryony Kimmings’ Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model, her quest to change the world after being horrified by what her nine-year-old niece could see on the internet, or Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag, about a young woman whose porn habit helps ruin her relationship.