[UPDATE:] As a result of this post, I had a spirited conversation with Sophie Jefferies from the press office at LA Phil that touched on new technology’s impact and the challenges it presents in a public setting; as well as the attending etiquette and social participation insofar as attending outdoor concerts at the Bowl is concerned. She had a quibble with me using the word “prohibited” when the Bowl site says cell phones “may not be operated.”
We both agreed that consideration for others is essential in the uncharted territory we find ourselves in as technology advances. “For some people, their cell phones are a part of enjoying a performance, especially for younger crowds. It doesn’t seem to happen at classical concerts.”
She made some good points about different types of music drawing different crowds with different expectations; said the language on the site about cell phones and pagers needed to be updated (“People don’t really use pagers anymore, do they?”); seemed to think the provisions on the back of the ticket more accurately explained the venue rules (They’re actually stricter and threaten expulsion.); and told me that at the Incubus concert the next night you were the exception if you weren’t using a cell phone in some way during the performance.
One more thing– the other acts on the bill on Sunday evening were Blitzer Trappen and the super charming and totally amazing Jenny Lewis.
From the Hollywood Bowl site:
Turn off any pagers, watch signals, or other electronic devices. Note: Cellular telephones, pagers, cameras, laser pointing devices and recording devices may not be operated in the theater.
For me and probably others, cell phone use at Hollywood Bowl is ruining performances and up to this point nothing is being done about it. I went to the Ray LaMontagne/LA Phil show on Sunday (LA Phil produces most of the summer concerts) and people were using their cell phones for texting and video recording so much it was impossible to enjoy the show.
At the beginning of the performance Anne Litt from KCRW, a co-producer of many Bowl shows, made an announcement asking people “to secure their open bottles and electronic devices” but she did NOT say that using cell phones is PROHIBITED at the Bowl, cell phones “may not be operated” as it states on their web site.
Six of the eight people in the row directly in front of me (in section K2) were texting, snapping photos, recording video and talking on their phones DURING THE PERFORMANCES and I could see it happening throughout the audience in front of me. I did not see any usher telling people to stop.
One particular idiot in front of me was swaying to the music as she texted away. Sick.
I bought a package of tickets to five shows this summer and I don’t even want to go back if this is the way the Hollywood Bowl is going to allow it to be.
I called the Bowl’s main number and the woman I spoke with was sympathetic but she also said it was the first complaint along these lines she has heard in her 13 years there. But she also said, “We can’t stop people from texting” and she couldn’t seem to fathom how having someone texting in the row in front of you in a dark theater would be distracting.
“You should definitely have let the ushers know about it,” she said, but “there isn’t the manpower” to police the aisles. During the show, what I saw was ushers standing around and watching the performance without any regard or awareness of anything happening in the stands. It appears there is plenty of staff on hand who could be enforcing the rule throughout the auditorium.
In response to an email, I got a call from an LA Phil patron services rep. Although he pointed out he was not authorized to speak for LA Phil, he said he plans to address the problem at the Bowl’s weekly operations staff meeting to ensure patrons are not using their phones for texting, calling and otherwise interfering with performances. He also said the video screens display the no-cell rule repeatedly before the performance along with other announcements but I never saw it and the screens were not visible anyway until it got dark.
After my conversation with him I feel guardedly optimistic that actions will be taken but who knows what the results will be. Have the rules of etiquette for public behavior shifted, or just disappeared?
Clear pre-performance announcements about prohibited cell phone use as well as a pre-show warning video (since they have those huge screens,) would be a step in the right direction. Most people using their phones appear to be unaware of how inconsiderate they are being as they arduously avoid being in the moment, alone with their thoughts. Are they unaware of the disturbance a bright screen causes in a dark auditorium to those seated behind them?
Or maybe they just don’t care, as the people in front of me told me (in so many words) when I asked them to stop. But they need to turn their phones off during the performances. And if they really want to use them so badly, they should show respect for those there to enjoy the music and step out of the auditorium to do so.