Saturday, August 20, 2011

What Happened in My Head

Today is Slattern Day in the blog, and I confess to 1) folding laundry, in defiance of Slattern Day and 2) just having had an elaborate conversation-in-my-head fantasy (in my kitchen, while achieving coffee) involving a cellphone going off in the middle of a live performance at a local theatre. (Image, Dinner With Friends, Heartland Theatre.)

I will actually be in a live performance in a local theatre this fall, Sirens, at Heartland, in early and mid-November, and a cellphone going off in the middle of it is, sadly, a real possibility. Hence, the elaborate fantasy.

Here's what happened in my head:

Mike, the artistic director, gave his usual pleasant curtain speech encouraging season tickets & volunteers, offering bottled water during intermission, and delivering the please-turn-off-your-cellphones request.

Then I came out and said, "Hi, I'm Kathleen Kirk, an actor in tonight's play, and I'd just like to ask you again to please turn off your cellphones. You may think your cellphone is off, or on mute, but it might not be, so please check. Also, I am technologically challenged, so even when I put my cellphone on mute, I might not have turned all the sound off, so if someone leaves a message, that little song starts singing later, and whoa! is that embarrassing! We wouldn't want that to happen to you, would we?

"I ask because, even though Mike asks every single night in his curtain speech, every single night someone's cellphone goes off during the performance. Really! No kidding! It's terribly distracting for the actors and the audience, and the people next to you will hate you and think you are stupid.

"You're not stupid, right? So, please, doublecheck, and turn your cellphone off, all the way off.

"If you are a super-important doctor-on-call, I'm not sure why you came to the theatre tonight, since you are on call, but, if you did, you can leave your cellphone on vibrate in the box office and, if there's an emergency and you have to go perform an appendectomy, the person in the box office will come out and stop the play and get you.

"I don't even want to mention texting.

"On a personal note, I could be at the state volleyball tournament tonight, watching my daughter play, but I made this commitment to my theatre colleagues in the spring and to you, tonight's audience, and, even though I am eager to hear about the game, I have turned off my cellphone so it doesn't ring or sing or buzz or vibrate backstage, causing any audible distraction for you, or physical disturbance to my fellow actors.

"Once I step out on this stage, in character, I am all yours and won't be thinking about volleyball at all. I will attend to that after the performance. But if a cellphone goes off tonight, while I am playing Rose in Sirens, it's possible I will have to step off the stage and out of character and escort you out of the theatre because of the disrespect to all..."

Cut to middle of play...cellphone goes off in the date-with-an-old-high-school-pal scene...Rose rummages around in her purse thinking it's hers, then listens, looks, and steps to the edge of the stage and off and up a little red-carpeted stair and rummages in the purse of an audience member and answers her phone:

"Hello? No, this Kathleen! I'm in a play right now, and you've called [expletive deleted] as she sat in this theatre audience watching the play.  ...I know! Pretty rude. So, I'm going to have to hang up now, and turn off this phone, and escort her out of the theatre. If it's really important, you'll call her back, right? Bye!"

Kathleen/Rose turns off the phone, fumbling a bit in her technology challenge, and looks around for a big man.

"OK, ma'am, I'm going to have security escort you out.  Security? Sir, could you be security for a moment, and escort this woman all the way to the front door?  Here, you can give her her cellphone when she's outside. We'll wait for you. We won't start the play again till you get back.

"Anybody else need to doublecheck your cellphones?"


DJ Vorreyer said...

I would pay to see this! THe best "no cellphones" bit I ever saw was at CST for Rose Rage, the 5 hour mashing of the war of Roses plays that eventually went to New York. There was lots of raw meat and cleavers used in the plays for the war/murder scenes, so the set was like a butcher/torture shop. One of the actors came out with a giant cleaver and a smeared butcher's apron and placed a cell phone on a stell table. When it rang, he smashed it into little pieces and then just stared at the audience. I don't believe I heard a phone that evening!

Kathleen said...

Excellent! Oh, Donna, I think we should incorporate that at Heartland, for sure. I'd be willing to somehow incorporate a butcher's block table into every set....

Carol Berg said...

That is one provocative photo, by the way! Nice!

Kathleen said...

I've had an interesting life, Carol. Primarily theatrically. At home...I'm a homebody.

JulieK said...

At "Urinetown" in NY, they had several cell phones nailed to a wall with extreme prejudice in the audience, so a minder could remind us all to turn off our cell phones and if we didn't, our phone would be taken and treated like the ones on the wall. Nobody misbehaved.

And a movie theater in Texas, I think, kicked out a texting woman, who then called and left a complaint message for them about how they shouldn't have kicked her out. They used her very own words to create a PSA to run before their movies to illustrate their No Cell Phones policy. Hehehehe. You can see it here:

Kathleen said...

Oh, Julie, that was fabulous!

Kathleen said...'s supposed to say "This is Kathleen..." when I answer the phone, but you knew that, your own head supplied it, right?

Collagemama said...

Could there be an onstage toilet for flushing offending cellphones? Love this.

Kathleen said...

Oooh, onstage flushing! I love this idea.

Kathleen said...

Maybe an actual toilet, brought on and taken off by stagehands dressed in black, and a flushing sound effect. Right after the curtain speech, no further words needed!

Prop cellphone.

Kathleen said...

OR, ask for an audience member's "volunteer" cellphone. Hand it to oncoming stagehand, who turns it off, puts it in toilet. Dramatic pause. Dramatic flushing sound effect.


Anonymous said...

I love it. I think it would make a great curtain-raiser or (nudge) 10-minute play.