Author Topic: COMMUNICATION: Preshow (turn off your cellphone) announcements  (Read 33494 times)

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ScooterSM

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(I am not sure if this is the right place for this, so mods please feel free to move it, thanks!)

Does any one have any creative suggestions for preshow announcements?  Our management team is trying to find some ideas, as our standard announcement is not doing its job.  We have recently been having problems with patrons using their cellphone cameras to video the performances.  I can see the screens from the booth, and notify house management, but unlike the old days, when they would have an actual camera and could confiscate their film or tape, they just have a phone.  We are hoping to find ideas of creative announcements to discourage people from wanting to video, in addition to turning off their cellphones, talking to their neighbor, unwrapping any crinkly candies, and telling them where the emergency exits are.

Would anyone be willing to please share ideas that they have used in the past that have been successful?

Thanks!

SSM
« Last Edit: Jun 09, 2009, 02:04 am by PSMKay »
I've never been paid a lot, but the theatre has kept me, and for that I shall be eternally grateful. Tony Church

Scott

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Re: Preshow (turn off your cellphone) announcements
« Reply #1 on: Nov 16, 2007, 06:40 pm »
  I can see the screens from the booth, and notify house management, but unlike the old days, when they would have an actual camera and could confiscate their film or tape, they just have a phone. 

Not an answer to your question -- but House Management does confiscate the phones, yes?

Mac Calder

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Re: Preshow (turn off your cellphone) announcements
« Reply #2 on: Nov 16, 2007, 07:20 pm »
Toughen up your rules.

"Goodevening Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to tonights performance of XYZ. Please note that any recording of this performance, either through video or photograph is strictly prohibited. A reminder that Mobile phones should also be turned off, and not to silent. Should you be required to be contactable during tonights performance, please talk to our front of house staff, who will gladly mind your phone, and retreive you in the case of a call. Thankyou, and we hope you enjoy tonights performance"

Then put signs up about your policy, then it is simple - their phones should be off, and as such, you can confiscate them as well, without the "What if someone needs to contact me!?!" excuse.

ScooterSM

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Re: Preshow (turn off your cellphone) announcements
« Reply #3 on: Nov 16, 2007, 07:26 pm »
  I can see the screens from the booth, and notify house management, but unlike the old days, when they would have an actual camera and could confiscate their film or tape, they just have a phone. 

Not an answer to your question -- but House Management does confiscate the phones, yes?

They try, but because of the set up of our theatre (we have very long rows) it is difficult to get to the patrons with out climbing over lots of other people so they usually can't talk to them until the intermission. 
I've never been paid a lot, but the theatre has kept me, and for that I shall be eternally grateful. Tony Church

LizH

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Re: Preshow (turn off your cellphone) announcements
« Reply #4 on: Nov 16, 2007, 10:11 pm »
Our HM has gone to something like "Please use this moment to take your phones out and ensure they are off or on silent mode. Also, please note that we do not permit use of your cell phone, including text messaging, during the performance." It gets a few more people to follow the rules.

BalletPSM

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Re: Preshow (turn off your cellphone) announcements
« Reply #5 on: Nov 17, 2007, 09:25 am »
Creative ideas, hmmm?  Well......

Once, for a show in college, i recorded the pre-show announcement for a show.  It went like this. 

"Good evening, and welcome to the ___________Theatre Company.  We would like to remind you that the use of any recording device is strictly prohibited.  Please take this moment to turn off all cell phones and p--- (sound effect of cell phone ringing).  Excuse me, just let me grab this a second.  Hello?  No, I'm in the middle of making a speech.  (random conversation continued underneath the following).   Please turn off all cell phones and pagers, and unwrap any cellophane-wrapped candies.  Thank you,and enjoy the performance."  The sound designer recorded me having a one-sided conversation, and then laid that down underneath the rest of my speech -- it worked pretty well!

Another fave of mine -- I worked on a new production of "Sense and Sensibility" last season, where the actors very much broke down the fourth wall -- talked to the audience, went in and among the aisles...and pre-show, they would mingle in the lobby and the house and talk to the audience members.  When they were ready to start the show, a couple of the actors went down on stage -- and then the SM would call a cell phone one of the actresses in her purse  -- and it would ring, and she would pull it out and say, "oh!  It's time to start?!  Okay, I'll make sure to tell them! Bye!"  And then she would turn to the audience and say something like, "our stage manager would like me to remind you to turn off your cell phones, as they didn't exist in Jane Austen's day!  And please no cameras or recording devices.  That's all!  Enjoy the performance!"  It was so cute.

My usual speech for my compay is pretty blah...I've thought about ways to try to spice it up, but at a professional ballet company its difficult to do that, and maintain the professional nature of it that the bosses want you to have. 

Try to match it with the show that you are doing...that's an interesting way to get the audience into the world of the play but still make them do what you need them to do.
« Last Edit: Nov 17, 2007, 09:27 am by BalletPSM »
Stage managing is getting to do everything your mom told you not to do - read in the dark, sit too close to the TV, and play with the light switches!

centaura

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Re: Preshow (turn off your cellphone) announcements
« Reply #6 on: Nov 17, 2007, 01:32 pm »
Quote
as our standard announcement is not doing its job.  We have recently been having problems with patrons using their cellphone cameras to video the performances

Don't worry - its not your announcement that's not doing the job, the patrons are willingly ignoring it.  Your announcement pertains to everyone else in the theatre, but not them.  They could get an important call, so the rules should therefore be waived just for them.  And the picture that they're taking is just for themselves, so there should be no reason why they're not allowed to take it.

Ah - the bane of modern technology.  We have fun in our theatre, the tours come in with very strict rules regarding recording, but all our ushers are volunteers, and generally all retired folk.  We tell them to make the patrons delete photos off of their phones, but they have no idea if they have or not since most of them don't understand the technology.

The best way I've seen to get the message across to the folks who will heed it is for there to be some comic bit that underscores the issue at the top of the show.  But if that is not appropriate for the show, then its much harder.  When the symphony plays here, there's often no 'real' preshow speach, nor any way to comedically point out the issue.

I do look forward to hearing about other folk's ideas.

-Centaura

PSMAK

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Re: Preshow (turn off your cellphone) announcements
« Reply #7 on: Nov 17, 2007, 06:13 pm »
What if perhaps you put the audience in the actor's perspective from the stage. What if you had a flash of lighting (like a camera flash flashing at them), basically telling them if it's distracting to them, it is distracting to the actors. Plus, putting in cell phone rings, sounds of candy wrappers, talking audience members, etc., loudly so hopefully they might get the idea.

jspeaker

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Re: Preshow (turn off your cellphone) announcements
« Reply #8 on: Nov 17, 2007, 07:31 pm »
My favorite (not that it addresses photos or texting... just annoying rings)-

A friend of mine directed Sunday in the Park with George at Chicago Shakes some years back.  When house opened a sound cue started that had sporadic cell phone ringing.  It was designed so that they were at various intervals and happened in a different place in the house each time.  The thought being that John Q Patron would hear it and remember to check their phone.

They did not have a single cell phone ring the entire run.

My least favorite is the horrible way it is done at the Dragon Lady's theatre here in DC.  It involves the house staff circulating through the house demonstrating how to turn it off.  Makes me shudder just thinking about it!
Jess W. Speaker, III
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http://q5go.blogspot.com/

jenhen

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Re: Preshow (turn off your cellphone) announcements
« Reply #9 on: Nov 17, 2007, 10:04 pm »
J-Dub, It's totally true.  The "personal appeal" to patrons to turn off their phone is possibly the worst way to do it.  People are always just chatting with eachother or looking at the program and not paying attention as house management circulates as they think it has nothing to do with them. Half the time they're dealing with some crisis in the house and don't even have time to do the cell phone "speech."  We've been open just barely a week and have had 6 phones go off already.
« Last Edit: Nov 18, 2007, 02:54 pm by jenhen »

avkid

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Re: Preshow (turn off your cellphone) announcements
« Reply #10 on: Nov 17, 2007, 10:46 pm »
My least favorite is the horrible way it is done at the Dragon Lady's theatre here in DC.  It involves the house staff circulating through the house demonstrating how to turn it off.
Eww...That sounds almost insulting.
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Sarah

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Re: Preshow (turn off your cellphone) announcements
« Reply #11 on: Nov 17, 2007, 10:47 pm »
An actor friend of mine told me a story about the Alley's preshow announcement. I'll truncate it. Imagine, if you will...

The sound of cell phones ringing and getting louder...

A big bass voice says, "Nooooooooooooooh"

The sound of cameras flashing...

A big bass voice says, "Noooooooooooooooh"

The sound of candy wrappers crinkling...

A big bass voice says, "Noooooooooooooooh"

Though it's a bit esoteric, it's kind of funny and my actor friend says that it was well-heeded.

The last line of our current preshow announcement is, "If you wish to enjoy candies during the show, please...unwrap them now." For some reason, the audience always laughs at this. I think it's silly, but apparently it's effective.

P.S. I agree with Centaura...for the most part, it's the audience disrespecting the rules.
« Last Edit: Nov 17, 2007, 10:59 pm by Sarah »

lauria

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Re: Preshow (turn off your cellphone) announcements
« Reply #12 on: Nov 18, 2007, 12:09 am »
...When house opened a sound cue started that had sporadic cell phone ringing.  It was designed so that they were at various intervals and happened in a different place in the house each time.  The thought being that John Q Patron would hear it and remember to check their phone.

I think that that is a great idea! Whenever I hear the sound of a phone being turned off or ringing, I definitely remember! Just tonight I saw a show and my friend checked his phone shortly before the show was about to begin and it certainly reminded me to turn mine off as well! Even with TWO pre show announcements about phones, there was still one phone that went off briefly tonight. Fortunately it was quickly silenced.

jspeaker

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Re: Preshow (turn off your cellphone) announcements
« Reply #13 on: Nov 18, 2007, 12:51 am »
My least favorite is the horrible way it is done at the Dragon Lady's theatre here in DC.  It involves the house staff circulating through the house demonstrating how to turn it off.
Eww...That sounds almost insulting.

Oh VERY!!
Jess W. Speaker, III
Equity Stage Manager
DC Area AEA Liaison
(301) 335-1498
 
http://q5go.blogspot.com/

sievep

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Re: Preshow (turn off your cellphone) announcements
« Reply #14 on: Nov 18, 2007, 10:18 am »
My least favorite is the horrible way it is done at the Dragon Lady's theatre here in DC.  It involves the house staff circulating through the house demonstrating how to turn it off.  Makes me shudder just thinking about it!

Ah, yes . . .and  the worst part about it is that the stage manager has to actually call a cue for this at 1 minute to top of show . . . ., but, The Dragon Lady doesn't like curtain speeches, so there you have it . . . an army of FOH staff dispatched to quietly make this announcement, which A) doesn't work and B) causes older patrons to turn up their hearing aids which then whistle throughout the performance.

As Jess knows, don't get me started.  If you are in DC and don't know which theater we are talking about, shoot me a PM and I'd be happy to tell you which theater it is and why no one should subject themselves to the the horrors of working there . . . and I'm not being a drama queen.
« Last Edit: Nov 18, 2007, 10:21 am by sievep »
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