Lasers? What more can be done?

David Fletcher, of the Cumberphone Campaign – a group of performers, writers and theatre professionals who aim to find innovative rather than draconian solutions to the problem – said:

“We welcome anything that helps shine a light on this issue, and Anthony Biggs at Jermyn Street Theatre has been a very outspoken champion of the cause. Chasing down audience-members with lasers is a bit like playing ‘Whack-a-Mole’ – by the time it gets to that stage it’s already too late.

“We support the tireless and brave work being done by ushers and front-of-house staff to help tackle the growing problem – but there’s far more that Theatres can do before a show starts, as we believe prevention is better than cure. Fire-proofing is preferable to fire-fighting – and signage and announcements and safety-curtain projections and the rest will only get you so far, and at the moment they don’t seem to be doing the trick, do they?

“At a minimum, announcements should be made in person, possibly even in character, and not simply over a PA system. And they shouldn’t be the old “reminders” – they need to be a plea, and an explanation, and they need to include a collective routine of us all actually turning our phones off together. Each production can have its own – and it can be something fun that helps get us all in the mood for the show ahead.

“This isn’t about exclusion, or etiquette – regular theatre-goers and people of all ages and backgrounds are equally likely to have an incidence of phone intrusion. There’s a range of issues, from photo-taking and filming, to accidental discharge, to perhaps the most problematic of all – the (seemingly innocuous) checking of your phone – which leads to a lit-up “ghost-face”. On an individual basis, perhaps not the worst offence, but in an auditorium of 1000 people with one in every 20 people engaging in it every few minutes it’s a huge distraction – not just to the actors, but far more crucially to fellow audience members.

“We need a range of measures (Ushers with torches seeking out the worst repeat offenders is perhaps part of that), and our Mobiles Manifesto on our website www.CumberphoneCampaign.com contains lots of ideas we want theatres to deploy. No one size fits all – what might work at the small Jermyn Street Theatre won’t be the same as at Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

“There’s also a great deal more Theatres can do to help educate audiences (and themselves) about how smartphones actually function. Many of us wrongly assume that “Silent” is ok, but that often means “Vibrate”. Similarly, “Airplane” mode may cut your phone off from the outside world, but it doesn’t cut your phone off from you – it can still ping you with calendar reminders and alarms. The “Do Not Disturb” function has default settings that mean repeat calls can get through. Turning the Ringer Volume down still leaves the ones for Alarms and Music untouched. And turning a phone all the way off (which takes an age) leaves it at the mercy of the slightest flick of the on button – not uncommon if your phone is wedged into your pocket or lolling around in a handbag.

“We can’t really address the issue properly until we fully understand it.

“One of the greatest challenges Theatres face is that a great many of us simply don’t want to turn our phones off. Ever. We’re not used to it. We’re not at all comfortable with the concept. We have them on in our sleep. We’ll diligently switch it to Airplane or Silent (both not nearly enough, as it turns out – see our Stealth Phone page and the “Fly Me To The Moon” initiative for more info), but turning them off is like amputating a limb. And these challenges are only going to increase with the further proliferation and integration of tech into our very personhood.

“Besides, smart phones can take an age to turn off (many mistakes can happen with assuming that you’ve turned your phone off, when it’s still buffering its way through a laborious power-down, ready to abort at the slightest provocation), and even longer to turn back on – with a short interval and the immediacy of craving instant reconnection the moment the curtain goes down (or maybe even the possibility of missing a permitted/encouraged curtain-call photo-op at the end of the show), it should come as no surprise that simply requesting audiences to “turn it off” moments before curtain-up isn’t really working as well as it should.

“You can even use your phone on the Tube and on airplanes now. The Theatre is one of the few remaining bastions, or rather refuges – and we should aim to more enticingly sell it as such. We should think of it less as a fortress, and more as a spa – regarded not just as a place where you can’t use your phone as you normally would for the other 21 hours of your small-screen-dominated day, but rather a place where we feel we are relieved and grateful not to be able to do so. It should feel less like entering a prison camp, and more like going to your best friend’s wedding – where the concern about your phone intruding upon the event is paramount.

“We aim to play our small part in helping making that a reality.”

[ENDS]

MEDIA CONTACT: please email info@cumberphonecampaign.com with your details and we’ll get back to you, or for more immediate response or to arrange an interview, please “follow” us on Twitter @cumberphone and we can exchange DMs (direct messages).

>>>>

Note: Anthony Biggs, Jermyn Street Theatre AD, updated statement (on Facebook): 23:00 17/03/2016 (i.e. after original Times & Sky reports)

https://www.facebook.com/anthony.biggs.104

Anthony Biggs, Jermyn Street Theatre:

You have may read or heard today that I’m keen to employ lasers to deter people from using their mobile phones in theatres – a practice apparently used by some authoritarian friends in China.

Whilst I often have murderous thoughts about the selfish bastards who persist in checking messages/answering calls/taking photos/filming etc during shows, I’m not really suggesting we laser them. Aside from the danger to people’s eye sight and a possible outbreak of hysteria at the thought of an imminent terrorist attack, I really don’t think it would work on the Brits. For the most part we are a liberal and tolerant lot, and we don’t like to be told what to do.

No, I suggest less stick and more carrot. Let’s look at ways to encourage our audiences to view a theatre performance as a period of joyous release from the tyranny of the smartphone, a time when no one (not even our Bunbury friends with their life threatening illnesses) can contact us, and where we can immerse ourselves fully in make-believe. Even if only for a few hours.

It’s a human need and one we must cherish X

<<<

Here’s just a few of the very many examples of recent exasperation from Theatreland’s brightest and best:

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Dame Judi Dench: “I can’t see well. But what I can see is red lights all over the theatre, and I know that’s people taking photographs. It’s a kind of oblivion to other people.”

Kenneth Cranham & Claire Skinner, The Father – speaking on the Graham Norton BBC Radio2 show (October 2015) LISTEN:

“Mobiles go off ALL THE TIME. Sometimes I shout: ‘PHONE!'” – Claire Skinner

“It spoils the moment, it really does” – Kenneth Cranham

Eva Noblezada, Kim, Miss Saigon“I’m sorry, but to sit idly in your seat looking at your BRIGHT screen for minutes is just…really?”  (@EvaNoblezada) – 29th August 2015

Ethan Le Phong, Miss Saigon“We have now routinely been spotting people filming our shows. STOP! It’s RUDE! It’s not a concert! We can see the f*cking red light assh*le!” (@EthanLePhong) – 2nd October 2015

Carrie Hope Fletcher, Eponine, Les Miserables“To the absolute A*SE in the upper circle with your red recording light on… YOU, yes YOU, single-handedly, were putting me off… it’s hugely disrespectful to those on stage and those around you…When it’s a concert it’s sort of the norm… Theatres are a very different atmosphere. You’re told in an announcement right before the curtain goes up and there are signs in the theatre.” (@CarrieHFletcher) –  25th August 2015

John Boydon & Sandy Moffat, Jersey Boys“Never known an audience like this! A girl on her phone all of Act 1” (@Sandy_Moffat) – “I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many phones lit up in an auditorium as tonight… Despite the FOH staff trying their best to stop it. Ridiculous, rude and disheartening.” (@JonBoydon) – 4th September 2015

Sam Mackay, Usnavi, In The Heights: “Theatre etiquette 101 – sitting on your phone in the audience is disrespectful to the performers and just plain rude in general. Turn it off. Even if I don;t enjoy a show I’d never be rude enough to sit on my phone – if it’s so bad, leave – do everyone a favour.” (@SamBMackay) – 7th March 2016

The list goes on…!

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Time Out spoke to #Cumberphone: full transcript

Time Out spoke to the Cumberphone Campaign a few days ago, and a nice little piece appeared in today’s magazine, entitled “Are Mobile Phones Ruining Our Theatres?”

But it was only a small article, so here’s the full transcript of our brief conversation, for those interested in finding out more…

EPSON MFP image

  • TIME OUT: Can you tell us a bit about yourselves?

Cumberphone: We initially formed as a small group of actors (mostly from musical theatre and mostly in our thirties), who met at a social event over the summer and got talking about the issue of mobile phones at weddings – having them on silent whilst still using them as cameras. Also around our table was a writer who was working on a play about the discovery of radio waves and the birth of wireless communication, and an actor who routinely carried a mobile on stage with him, to jokingly answer if one went off in the audience. And so the notion of setting up a campaign-of-sorts was born.

  • TIME OUT: So your campaign is named after Benedict Cumberbatch, and it was specifically inspired by a speech he made asking people not to record performances of Hamlet on their phones – was that a sort of road-to-Damascus moment for you, or had you already been toying with the idea of doing something?

Cumberphone: We were already pretty set on trying to do something fun within the industry – encouraging more pre-show short films from casts, with lyrics to songs changed to be about mobile phones, or whole skits like the brilliant one the Avenue Q team in the U.S. have subsequently released. So when the media reaction to Benedict’s little stage door soliloquy was so huge, we felt compelled to launch a more fulsome public campaign – it felt like a touchpaper had been lit and the moment was right.

When the Society of London Theatres released a statement saying they hadn’t heard of any initiatives beyond pre-show announcements, and when the Barbican’s reaction was to attempt to go into prison-camp-style lock-down (something that might well work for this one show, but was unlikely to have any lasting industry-wide impact), we felt that a broader discussion was needed – but we don’t seek to lead that discussion, just to better help facilitate it and focus it on practical solutions. We welcome input from all quarters, and want to bring together a broad spectrum, from shushers to shruggers, from texters to tutters.

Draconian-Innovative

  • TIME OUT: Do you think theatre behaviour had got worse in the mobile phone era?

Cumberphone: Theatres seem somewhat stuck in the era of first generation mobiles and pagers that might accidentally go off, and seeking to avoid it with polite reminders, as opposed to the entirely different new reality of Smart Phones, which are interwoven into the fabric of our identity and personhood and are almost never turned off in daily life. Even diligent theatergoers often struggle with just how resilient their phones can be to pacification – for instance, many people incorrectly assume silent or Airplane mode are sufficient. If people are taking photos or filming, it may be seen as disruptive or disrespectful to some in the Theatre, but it’s also entirely normal in almost every other aspect of daily life, and it usually means you’re enjoying a moment rather than trying to breach copyright. We can’t properly address the issue until we better understand it.

Much of the disruption isn’t necessarily a phone making noise, or people taking photos, but rather the constant checking – a lit-up ‘ghost-face’ is distracting up on stage as well as to fellow audience members. It’s not a case for making theatre more compelling – people these days could be watching humanity set foot on Mars, whilst still thinking nothing of multi-tasking to tweet about it, or check up on the babysitter. So this is more about Theatre playing catch-up. And no, we’re not advocating for “tweet seats”, but we do want to see more digital content, better WiFi, more e-ticketing and the like. We love our phones – and if theatres want us to turn them off they’ve got do a better job than just a brief announcement moments before curtain-up.

Signal-jamming and frisking and compulsory lockers and the like is out, not least because theatres actually want us to use our mobiles more – whether that be ordering interval drinks, or downloading digital programmes, or tweeting about the show. For us this isn’t about being more draconian, it’s about being more innovative.

We-Love-Our-Phones

  • TIME OUT: What do you think can really be done about it, beyond the phone announcements most theatre shows make at the start already? Do you think you can alter people’s behaviour?

Cumberphone: There are some simple psychological nudges that can be deployed, such as having no-phone logos on the front of tickets instead of small print on the back, and relatively cheap modifications such as providing seat-back pockets for people to put their phones in and hooks for jackets and handbags, and exit signs could incorporate clocks. Theatre should seek out advice from other ‘nudge’ campaigns such as the anti-smoking Stoptober – there’s far more we could be doing.

Then there’s the technological infrastructure aspect – directly communicating with the audience via their mobiles. Booking systems should require or incentivize us to provide mobile phone details, just as we do with emails (and as is commonplace for train tickets). As well as sending a brief reminder text-message containing seat locations, venue address and show running time, it could also include a link to a funny short video filmed by the cast asking you to turn off your phone – which is likely to have more impact than a faceless PA announcer alone. Existing confirmation emails are fine up to a point (if somewhat varied across the industry), but they contain a plethora of information – we need just the basics, and for “no-phones” to be included in that, not just buried in small print as an after-thought.

We want to see the industry do more to share best practice, and we should find a point-person to co-ordinate this. A wider publicity campaign (with plenty of scope for commercial sponsorship of short films and adverts) fronted by theatre’s leading lights could help better sell theatre as the special one-off live event that it is, an almost unique place where you can uncouple from your phone for a few of blissful hours – rather than being frowned upon for “not knowing the rules”.

Secret Cinema currently do this very well with their no-phones policy and #TellNoOne tagline, and the star-studded “Don’t Text or Talk” pre-screening short films at the Alamo Drafthouse cinemas in the U.S. go way beyond our old Orange “Don’t Let a Phone Ruin Your Movie” ads.

We can do more – and it can be fun, something that far from excluding or berating audiences can actually help better get them in the mood for the show ahead. Having cast members perform a skit, or make a direct appeal, is bound to have more of an impact than a FOH manager or PA announcement – as is involving audiences in verifiably turning off their phones together as part of a collective ritual, rather than just hoping everyone has already and all that’s required is a brief reminder.

And given that even if you turn your phone off it can turn back on with the gentlest of accidental flicks, we also want Theatre to lobby the mobile phone industry to incorporate a stealth-mode function that’s as simple to turn on as Airplane mode with just a single swipe.

Effectively a way to ensure your multi-faceted super-smart phone remains truly silent, motionless, dark and non-invasive (even if it turns itself back on) but can still function if you need it to – such as using it as a camera at a wedding. Part of the problem theatres face is that phones (which the smarter they get can take so long to turn off and back on again) are so integral to who we are, that turning them off entirely can feel like losing one of your senses – most people just don’t do it in any other area of their daily lives, not even when we’re asleep. We can even use our phones on airplanes and underground trains now.

 Usher_iTheatre

  • TIME OUT: You’ve explicitly decided to go down a sort of ‘fun’, ‘friendly’ route to your campaign, differentiating yourselves from Theatre Charter. Can you just say a bit more about that strategy and your awards and stuff like that?

Cumberphone: Our campaign is focused entirely on the single issue of mobile phones, and we seek to work to find creative and innovative solutions. We totally appreciate where the Theatre Charter is coming from, yet we equally understand why many people find the very notion of ‘etiquette’ off-putting and exclusionary. Audiences in the West End are mostly going to be different from those in a community or pub theatre – there’s no panacea, no one-size-fits-all approach. Having fun videos like that produced by Avenue Q is very much the route we’ve decided to take. We also have “The Cumbies” awards for best practice – whether that be a creative company tweet, a funny show-stopping technique from a cast member, or Cumberboo awards for bad behaviour – and we’ve named many of them after people who’ve famously spoken out, such as Richard Griffiths, Patti LuPone and Hugh Jackman.

It’s all just part of helping to get people talking.

Securing theatre funding, discovering fresh talent, bringing in new audiences, increasing diversity and opportunity across the industry – all of these are of course greater priorities. But mobile phones are increasingly becoming a bit of an issue too, so we’re just here to help play our small part – hopefully the ideas presented in our “mobiles manifesto” will lead to some lasting solutions.

Cumbies-Curtain

For more info: www.CumberphoneCampaign.com & follow us on Twitter @cumberphone

#cumberphone

Time Out article on #Cumberphone & Theatre Charter

Time Out London Theatre Editor Andrzej Lukowski wrote this in today’s magazine

Are mobile phones ruining our theatres?

FOR THE FULL TRANSCRIPT OF OUR CONVERSATION, CLICK HERE

Two grassroots campaigns are aiming to tackle the ‘crisis’ of mobile phones in theatre – but is there one?

TimeOut-image-TimClark

[image ©Tim Clark/Time Out]

Richard Gresham is mad as hell… and he’s not going to take it any more. The 52-year-old – who sells theatre advertising – has secured some notoriety as the mastermind behind Theatre Charter, a voluntary code of theatre etiquette that’s caused ripples for its stringency – one ‘pledge’ is to pre-unwrap your sweets before sitting down – and its suggestion that London audiences have gone to the dogs.

‘I think behaviour in the theatre has noticeably declined in the last two to three years due to the new generation of mobile phones,’ he says. ‘People feel they have to be in contact all the time: phones buzz all night from Twitter.’

What he wants, he says, is a debate on the subject with bigwigs in Theatreland, including the influential Society of London Theatre (SOLT), to see what can be done – for instance, making a pre-show announcement to turn phones off compulsory. But despite his campaign having its supporters – an encouraging Tweet from Stephen Fry brought it to wider attention – the industry has cold-shouldered him: ‘if they tell me there’s nothing that can be done and that I should go away, I will’, he sighs. ‘I just don’t understand why they won’t speak to me’.

Few industry types made official comment, but Amber Massie-Blomfield, erstwhile head of communications at the Albany Theatre, wrote a widely-circulated blog saying why her theatre had rebuffed Gresham’s efforts to sign them to the Charter. ‘There’s a danger of the industry of coming off as stuffy,’ she says now. ‘Our priority is to increase accessibility and the Charter is at odds with that.’

Should tolerance have its limits, though? In August, Benedict Cumberbatch made an impassioned plea after a performance of ‘Hamlet’, asking his adoring fans to use their mobile phones to film him… begging them to stop filming him on their phones during performances. The message duly went viral, spawning a second grassroots anti mobile phone campaign.

The Cumberphone Campaign, as it is genuinely known, is a collective of actors who had planned to launch some sort of humorous awareness campaign but were inspired to do something more after ‘Benedict’s little stage door soliloquy… it felt like a touchpaper had been lit.’

They’re a bit wary of Theatre Charter – ‘we understand why many people find the very notion of ”etiquette” off-putting and exclusionary,’ says a spokesperson – but have come to broadly the same conclusions: that theatres ‘seem stuck in the first era of mobile phones’, unable to deal with the constant, low-level intrusion of push notifications.

Cumberphone’s solution [*] is to promote the sharing and creation of humorous anti-phone messages to ‘nudge’ audiences and theatres into ‘best practice’.

[*] Plus plenty more besides! See our Manifesto highlights here.

I hit a brick wall of bland press statements when I attempted to press the industry: Julian Bird, chief executive of SOLT said: ‘Society of London Theatre believes that those attending a live performance should be considerate to their fellow audience members and performers as electronic devices can cause unnecessary distraction and disruption.’ No kidding.

And a spokesperson for ‘Hamlet’ merely said ‘the company… have nothing further to add on this matter.’ Cheers guys!

Are we living through a crisis? It does seem that every advance in mobile phone technology ushers in a new world of potential dickishness. But it’s not my experience that theatre is being ruined. As with anything in life, try not to be a douche when you go to the theatre – and be aware that the person sitting next to you may well be plotting an elaborate campaign to switch off your phone.

Time Out asks: Do you think mobiles in the theatre are out of control? And if so, what can be done? Let us know via this link. http://www.timeout.com/london/theatre/are-mobile-phones-ruining-our-theatres 

FOR THE FULL TRANSCRIPT OF OUR CONVERSATION, CLICK HERE

#cumberphone

Kenneth Cranham & Claire Skinner interview: “Phones go off ALL THE TIME!”

Listen to this 2-minute audio clip of Kenneth Cranham and Claire Skinner, currently starring in Christopher Hampton’s The Father at the Wyndham’s Theatre, on Graham Norton’s BBC Radio 2 show on Saturday.

BBCR2 (2min audio): http://chirb.it/4L0P5O

Claire Skinner: “They go off all the time. Sometimes I shout ‘PHONE!’ – Last night someone’s text alert went off and it was like a doorbell.”

Kenneth Cranham: “It does spoil the moment, it really does.”

Show_TheFather

#cumberphone

Zero Dark Thirty-style blackouts? The many pitfalls of Geo-Fencing & Signal-Jamming…

Cumberphone_Campaign_logo_twitter

Here are a list of interesting articles on some of the more draconian (“Big Brother” in some cases) measures that might be deployed against mobile phones – and some very useful insights into how and why they are mostly unsuitable for Theatre – whether from a technological, societal, cultural or political standpoint.

We-Love-Our-Phones

We’ll explore these further in our Manifesto and elsewhere on our website in due course.

But for now, we’ll say this:

  • Geo-fencing is notoriously unreliable – the leakage of any signal-jamming affecting nearby pavements, restaurants and businesses up and down Shaftesbury Avenue would be a nightmare, and geo-fencing has often been shown to fail to ‘release’ your phone signal once you leave its range.
  • Signal-jamming is basically mostly illegal.
  • Those who work in Theatres, not least the actors stuck in their dressing rooms for long periods before shows, often out on tour far away from home, yet increasingly expected to be co-opted as online daily marketers of their show, would if anything be in favour of better WiFi rather than geo-fenced signal-jamming.
  • Remotely disabling phone-cameras and other software may appeal to tin-pot dictatorships, but certainly isn’t going to fly here – and what of emergencies, or even permitted/encouraged photo-opportunities inside theatre buildings?
  • New York City banned mobile phone use in Theatres (and museums, libraries, etc) in 2003, including a $50 fine, but it has had a negligible impact.
  • The UK Government has all but given up on trying to prevent mobile phones getting into prisons, so there’s no sense trying to replicate that failed strategy in free and open buildings (even if this Orange cinema ad is undoubtedly funny and quite appealing) – although there’s certainly scope for better facilities such as phone-charging-lockers at Theatres.
  • Theatres are (rightly, in our view) increasingly encouraging audiences to use our phones – whether that be to purchase our interval drinks (e.g. via ATG Ordertorium and Barbican Bars), enjoy more digital content (e.g. NT Backstage), use e-tickets (e.g. TodayTix), pay for things using Contactless (e.g. ApplePay), Tweet about shows, etc. If anything, we need better WiFi in Theatres (perhaps call the networks “Curtain Up? Phone Down!”).
  • So even if anyone wanted it to happen (in our opinion it shouldn’t, but we sympathise with those who do), it ain’t going to – so we’d prefer to focus on other more positive steps we can take to better enhance the experience for the mobile phone user, which we believe might actually be more likely to reduce mobile phone use during shows themselves.

Draconian-Innovative

These articles certainly make for interesting reading…

Silencing Cell-Phones in Public Places

Apple patent could remotely disable protestors’ phone cameras

Apple could soon block your device without your permission

Apple patents tech to let cops switch off iPhone camera, video and WiFi

Geo-targeting, Geo-Fencing, Beaconing and Location Marketing (yes, like in Minority Report)

Eight examples of Geo-fencing you should know about

South Korean schools are remotely disabling students’ smart phones (and mostly failing)

Apple’s Find My Friends App tracks people inside buildings

Technology to Block Mobiles in Prisons it Too Expensive

#cumberphone

Avenue Q release fab #Cumberphone video! Who’s next?

What a way to kick off “Off-tober”!

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Offtober

#cumberphone

This is brilliant stuff from AvenueQ – hopefully it will spark loads more!

Please join the newly-launched Cumberphone Campaign now…

Twitter: @Cumberphone and Facebook.com/Cumberphone

“Tackling the issue of Mobile Phones at Theatres, one show-tune and soliloquy at a time…”

We’d like all of you wonderful theatricals reading this to perform a line, portion, scene or song from your show (or a rival show perhaps) – with words suitably adjusted for the phone-addicted audience – post it online – on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook or Vimeo using #cumberphone – then nominate your fellow professionals to do the same. It’ll be hard to beat that Avenue Q video – but give it your best shot!

It’s like the ice-bucket challenge, crossed with #15secondshakespeare – but less cold!

They can be rough and ready, in costume or not, they can be mere Vines or Snapchat rants, or they can be a Kenneth Branagh Disney extravaganza. Just a few fun ones to get the ball rolling for now (there’s no limit on the number of entries per performer or show, so keep ’em coming!), to help get people talking…

“Great Campaign – sign me up right now!” – Mark Shenton, The Stage

“We need a big public awareness campaign” – Mark Shenton, The Stage, September 2015

Indeed we do. And so here it is.

Campaign launch press release (“This campaign is not about being more draconian, it’s about being more innovative – and we want it to be fun”)

Draconian-Innovative

Playbill – article by Mark Shenton on the Cumberphone Campaign

The Stage – article on Cumberphone Campaign launch

Our Theatreland Mobiles Manifesto will be launching in October – this is just our opening salvo in the campaign – so hopefully we’ll have lots of your comic/tragic #cumberphone videos in before then to help kick things off with a smile.

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The #Cumberphone Campaign Awards – “The Cumbies” will be annual, but (given just how prevalent those mobile phone intrusions are) there will plenty of chances to earn an Honourable Monthly Mention in some categories.

  • Best pre-show short film (comedy, musical and drama categories) – self-nominations open now!
  • Best pre-show cast announcement (Kinky Boots an early favourite)
  • Best pre-show company tweet (e.g. – Globe polite, Mormon direct)
  • Most egregious example of mobile phone use (monthly)
  • Most inappropriate show-moment for phone interruption (Show Must Go On award)
  • Best mid-show phone reaction from cast (The Richard Griffiths memorial award)
  • Most charming, friendly, humorous response (Hugh Jackman Grace Under Fire award)
  • Best mid-show phone reaction from audience (The Bianca Jagger award)
  • Best post-show tweeting (monthly) (Carrie Hope Fletcher an early favourite)
  • Best Stage Door comment/video (The Benedict Cumberbatch award)
  • Special Award for Theatre doing most (e.g. Jermyn Street trying hard)
  • Special Award for Company doing most (is there a Stealth-Mode phone yet?)
  • Critics Choice Award – Best individual commitment to the cause (or we could just give it to Patti LuPone right now?)
  • “Cumberboo” Award for Bad behaviour (ATT in the lead so far for this shameful advert or this one)

The Cumbies Awards – full info here: http://tinyurl.com/the-cumbies2015

(in the U.S.A., we have the #LuPonePhone Campaign Awards – “The Ponies”)

Cumbies-Curtain

Brief Announcements and Signs don’t seem to be doing the trick so far, do they?

The idea of having short, humorous, educational and irreverent films and performances before all shows is a key plank of the Cumberphone Campaign – so if you’re in a show or part of a company and want to make a short video… please get uploading now!

We hope that Theatreland will institute far more ritualised and collective acts of encouragement to audiences to “turn their phones off” (although it’s not that simple – see Stealth Phone and the Mobiles Manifesto) – and a great deal of that is going to be in the hands of our talented, tireless actors. It should be fun, not onerous, for both audience and performer.

  • Let’s, Turn, The Phones, Off, Agaaaaaaain – Rocky Horror
  • On My Phone, Pretending He’s Re-Tweeting Me – Les Miserables
  • Good Girrrrrls, Dooooon’t Text – Jersey Boys
  • The Phones Are On In SaigonMiss Saigon
  • Turn It Off. Like a Light-Switch, Just Go Click – Book of Mormon (too easy)
  • If You Were Gay, That’d Be Okay (so long as you didn’t use your phone in the theatre) – Avenue Q
  • We Are The Knights Who Say Niiiii (Phones)! – Spamalot

Let’s make it happen!

If all those wonderful performers are willing to strip naked for the good cause that is West End Bares, then surely we can pull this off too.

http://tinyurl.com/the-cumbies2015

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You can also get your “Twibbons” (a mini cumberphone logo to add to the corner of your Twitter profile to help spread the word) here – http://tinyurl.com/cumbertwibbon

Twibbon

Here’s just a few of the very many examples of recent exasperation from Theatreland’s brightest and best on the subject of Mobile Phones at the Theatre:

Eva Noblezada, Kim, Miss Saigon“I’m sorry, but to sit idly in your seat looking at your BRIGHT screen for minutes is just…really?”  (@EvaNoblezada) – 29th August 2015

Ethan Le Phong, Miss Saigon: “We have now routinely been spotting people filming our shows. STOP! It’s RUDE! It’s not a concert! We can see the f*cking red light assh*le!” (@EthanLePhong) – 2nd October 2015

Carrie Hope Fletcher, Eponine, Les Miserables“To the absolute AR*E in the upper circle with your red recording light on… YOU, yes YOU, single-handedly, were putting me off… it’s hugely disrespectful to those on stage and those around you…When it’s a concert it’s sort of the norm… Theatres are a very different atmosphere. You’re told in an announcement right before the curtain goes up and there are signs in the theatre.” (@CarrieHFletcher) –  25th August 2015

John Boydon & Sandy Moffat, Jersey Boys“Never known an audience like this! A girl on her phone all of Act 1” (@Sandy_Moffat) – “I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many phones lit up in an auditorium as tonight… Despite the FOH staff trying their best to stop it. Ridiculous, rude and disheartening.” (@JonBoydon) – 4th September 2015

We hope you’ll consider get on board with the campaign too!

Thank You 😉

#cumberphone

Twitter: @Cumberphone and Facebook.com/Cumberphone

www.CumberphoneCampaign.com

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PRESS RELEASE: “This isn’t about being more Draconian, it’s about being more Innovative.”

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“This isn’t about being more draconian, it’s about being more innovative.”

PRESS RELEASE: 12.00, Saturday 26th September 2015

NEW GROUP FORMED TO HELP SOLVE ISSUE OF MOBILE PHONES IN THEATRES 

  • pledges to run 100% positive campaign

A new initiative has been launched to help tackle mobile phone use in Theatres, following Mark Shenton’s call in his column earlier this month in The Stage that “we need a big public awareness campaign.”

The “Cumberphone Campaign” takes its name from Benedict Cumberbatch’s call to “tweet, blog, hashtag the sh*t out of this one”, after he pleaded with those flocking to see his Hamlet at the Barbican to desist from filming him during performances – something the actor described as “mortifying.”

The group is set to launch a “Theatreland Manifesto for Mobiles” in October, which it claims is full of innovative and bold new proposals, and hopes to win the backing of key industry bodies the Society of London Theatres, ATG, Delfont Mackintosh, Equity and others, during an open consultation process – during a period it has dubbed Off-tober and Nophone-vember.

The alliance of performers and theatre-lovers – which says it is “not an organisation, but rather an idea” – is also hoping to emulate the success of the recent online craze #15scondshakespeare, where famous names performed snippets of pop-song lyrics in overly-dramatic style.

It’s calling on those in shows in the West End and around the country to submit videos online, using the hashtag #cumberphone, with songs and scenes altered “to address the issue of mobiles one show-tune and soliloquy at a time.”

It’s also encouraging theatre-loving members of the public to do the same.

It will host an awards ceremony – “The Cumbies” – to celebrate the best of them, as well as to hand out an array of gongs, such as the Richard Griffiths Memorial Show-Stoppers Award, the Bianca Jagger Audience Vigilante Award and the Patti Lupone Annual Achievement Award – as well as Cumberboo Awards for poor behaviour across the industry.

Patti LuPone has hit the headlines in the US yet again, having already snatched an audience member’s phone on Broadway earlier this summer, after she spoke out against a recent series of adverts by US phone-giant AT&T that depict people watching sports on their phones during live theatre performances.

Urging theatre-goers to ditch AT&T as their provider, LuPone said: “Everything can be heard, including the tapping of digits on a phone or the click of a camera. And from the stage, do not be fooled. We can see you. It’s time we all in the theatre community put an end to the cell phone disruptions.”

David Fletcher, spokesman for the Cumberphone Campaign, said that the issue had now reached a critical mass:

“If we don’t act now, then when will we ever?” he said.

“Every so often there’s a flashpoint, when stars like Benedict or Patti speak out publicly, or Hugh Jackman, Daniel Craig or Kevin Spacey say something out on stage. But then we all just seem to hit the reset button and very little changes.”

“But we sincerely hope not this time.”

“We’re calling on all within Theatreland to help end that hopeless cycle now. We need to make real and lasting changes to how we approach this issue. And we should set ourselves the target of doing so before Apple brings out the iPhone 7.” [expected September 2016]

Saying it wanted to help bridge the growing divide between the tutters and the texters, the shusshers and the shruggers, the new Campaign praised the efforts of last summer’s Theatre Charter to promote better audience behaviour – from not talking, rustling sweet wrappers, using mobiles or arriving late for a show.

But, pledging that the Cumberphone group would run an entirely positive campaign, Fletcher stressed: “This isn’t just about etiquette, this is about finding and implementing creative and credible solutions.

“We’re not a band of Luddite Luvvies – quite the opposite. We love our phones. You’ll not find a more phone-addicted, tweet-happy bunch than actors out on tour.

“You can use your phones on the London Underground now, and there’s WiFi on airplanes – so it’s hardly surprising that theatre-goers are struggling to adapt to theatre’s status as one of the last few remaining refuges.

“The Manifesto will set out some bold proposals – some theatrical, some technological. And many others that might seem more challenging to implement but are certainly worth exploring. One size won’t fit all, but we certainly need a unified approach – that’s key.”

The group praised the emergence of new theatre apps like NT Backstage, ATG Ordertorium and TodayTix; it wants to see better WiFi in theatres, an expansion of e-ticketing and contactless payments – and is also calling for direct engagement with audience members via their mobiles.

“You’re probably more likely to turn your phone off if you’re texted some time before a show with a link to a video of its leading stars asking you to, rather than blared at by a faceless PA system moments before curtains-up,” continued Fletcher.

“There are also a number of simple psychological ‘nudges’ that could easily be deployed – such as putting a bold ‘no-phones’ logo on the front of tickets rather than dense small-print on the back.

“But this is obviously about far more than clearer signage or better announcements. Reminding people to turn their phones off is one thing, and we can certainly do that better, but we must change the whole way we go about it – because what we’re doing now certainly isn’t working very well, is it?

“This isn’t about being more draconian, it’s about being more innovative.

“We hope everyone in Theatre will come together to look at our ideas. And then, just as happens in a rehearsal room, pick them apart, add in new suggestions, mould it into something we all have a steak in, and emerge at the end of the process with a production we can take pride in and “open” in 2016 .”

For more information, see www.CumberphoneCampaign.com 

Twitter: @cumberphone

Facebook: facebook.com/cumberphone

UPDATES:

See transcript of our conversation with Time Out here.

See our Stealth Phone page for how to put your phone into “Theatre Mode”

Listen to Claire Skinner & Kenneth Cranham on BBC Radio 2 talking about how “phones go off all the time.”

Notes to Editors:

Benedict Cumberbatch (see video below) is by no means alone in speaking out.

West End stars have increasingly been taking to Twitter (and other more private forums) to call for greater efforts to be made by theatres and producers ahead of shows, rather than just by ushers during them.

They insist it’s not a question of copyright infringement, or substandard recordings of performances appearing online, though that remains of concern. It’s about the effect it has on the experience for the entire audience – whether that be performers themselves being distracted, or the distraction of fellow audience-members.

Carrie Hope Fletcher, Eponine in Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theatre, recently took to Twitter in a series of colourful messages to her almost 400,000 followers to complain that being filmed during a performance had completely put her off. “When it’s a concert it’s sort of become the norm. Theatres are a very different atmosphere. It’s hugely disrespectful to those on stage and those around you,” she said.

Eva Noblezada, Miss Saigon’s Kim at the Prince Edward Theatre wrote: “I’m sorry, but to sit idly in your seat looking at your bright screen is just… really?”

Jersey Boys Tommy De Vito actor John Boydon, expressed astonishment after a recent show at the Piccadilly Theatre, tweeting “I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many phones lit up in an auditorium as tonight, despite the FOH staff doing their best to stop it. Ridiculous, rude and disheartening.”

Avenue Q have set the bar pretty high with this perfect #Cumberphone video, released on 1st Off-tober 2015!

– – [ENDS] – –

Playbill: “Cumberphone” Campaign Launched to Address Cell Phone Use in and by Theatres

Playbill logo

http://www.playbill.com/news/article/cumberphone-campaign-launched-to-address-cell-phone-use-in-theatres-364261

By Mark Shenton
25 Sep 2015

The Cumberphone Campaign has been launched in the U.K, named in honour of Benedict Cumberbatch who made a direct appeal to his fans to stop using their cellphones during his current run of Hamlet at the Barbican Theatre to film and photograph the show.

It has been launched, according to a statement on their website, “to finally and properly address the vexing issue of mobile phones in theatres. It’s got to be more than simply ‘turn it off’ or ‘no photos,’ with varying pre-show announcements and haphazard brave ushering. We need a unified approach across Theatreland, and we need it now. If we in Theatre can harness our collective imagination and creativity to the fullest (something we should be pretty good at), combined with tech savvy and marketing nous, then we can hopefully have a dramatic impact.”

In a statement on their website, the campaign stresses what they are not:

The site will release its “Mobiles Manifesto” in October. The intention is for theatre to “better embrace technology.” This means, they say, “we want better WiFi; we want more e-ticketing and theatre apps; we want more digital programmes and content (NT Backstage is great, and they’re finally getting a proper mobile site up soon too); we want more NT Live and Digital Theatre and the like; and we want theatres to interact with the audience through their phones far better than they do now.”

To that end, they say, “Our best option is to do a better job of the pre-show routine. But this isn’t just about the announcements a few moments before curtains-up – however funny or pleading or threatening they may be. From the moment you buy your tickets, there are a number of ‘nudges’ that can be deployed to better prepare theatre-goers. We aim to better institutionalise these processes across the industry – and there’s safety in numbers. No one theatre or production wants to be that awkward, prissy, irascible nerd who won’t stop banging on about mobile phones, do they? But some can certainly blaze a trail.”

For further details on Cumberphone Campaign, visit the websitecumberphonecampaign.com, and for updates on Twitter, follow @cumberphone and hashtag #cumberphone and on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/cumberphone

  • “We are emphatically not a bunch of huffy Luddite Luvvies – we love our phones, we really do. (You’re most likely reading this on your phone too, right? Well, so long as you’re not doing it during a show, that’s fine by us). We aim to bring together a broad spectrum of theatre-lovers, from the exasperated angry shushers to the laid-back shoulder-shruggers.”
  • “Neither are we a Cumberbatch fan-site (lovely chap though he is), or a parody – although admittedly our very name and our penchant for prefixing anything that moves with a “cumber” is perhaps grounds for a raised eyebrow.

The @Cumberphone Campaign gets underway in The Stage

Stage_story_tweet_25-09-15

https://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2015/cumberbatch-inspires-campaign-to-stamp-out-phone-use-in-theatres/

please note – the headline says “stamp out” – but it’s more like “massage”, ok?! 😉

by Matthew Hemley – Sep 25, 2015

A campaign inspired by Benedict Cumberbatch that is aimed at tackling the use of mobile phones in the theatre has been launched.

The Cumberphone Campaign takes its name from Cumberbatch, who recently urged audiences coming to see him in Hamlet at the Barbican in London not to film him while on stage.

It is described as an “alliance of performers and theatre-lovers” and will later this month unveil a manifesto, which will put forward a set of proposals about how to prevent phones being used during performances. There will be a consultation phase to enable people to input their own ideas.

Spokesman David Fletcher said the campaign was not about etiquette but finding and implementing “creative and credible solutions”.

He said the manifesto, to be launched on October 10, would include “bold proposals – some theatrical and some technological”.

“One size won’t fit all, but we certainly need a unified approach – that’s key,” he said.

The campaign is urging actors in West End shows to record short videos featuring them altering well-known songs and scenes to address the issue of phone use in theatres.

Fletcher added that having performers engage directly with audiences would help reduce the number of phones used in the theatre.

“You’re probably more likely to turn your phone off if you’re texted some time before a show with a link to a video of its leading stars asking you to, rather than being blared at by a faceless PA system moments before curtain up,” he said.

The campaign also plans to launch an awards ceremony, called the Cumbies, to honour the best videos, with categories named after well-known performers who have challenged mobile phone users in the theatre, including Patti LuPone.

Fletcher said the group behind the campaign wanted to remain anonymous, claiming “personalising things can be fraught with boobytraps”. He added that it was aiming to get the support of industry bodies including Ambassador Theatre Group and Equity.

Earlier this month, a backstage theatre worker left his job with Really Useful Theatres after criticising the behaviour of Cumberbatch fans on Twitter.

[please note: for the avoidance of doubt, the Cumberphone Campaign has no connection with the individual referred to above]

#cumberphone

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#Cumberphone Manifesto & Campaign overview…

Cumberphone_Campaign_logo_twitter

We are currently in Previews. Opening Night isn’t until October.

So, with that in mind, here’s a couple of things we ought to make clear right from the outset, as we’ll only get one chance to make a first impression:

  • We are emphatically not a bunch of huffy Luddite Luvvies – we love our phones, we really do. (You’re most likely reading this on your phone too, right? Well, so long as you’re not doing it during a show, that’s fine by us). We aim to bring together a broad spectrum of theatre-lovers, from the exasperated angry shushers to the laid-back shoulder-shruggers.
  • Neither are we a Cumberbatch fan-site (lovely chap though he is), or a parody – although admittedly our very name and our penchant for pre-fixing anything that moves with a “cumber” is perhaps grounds for a raised eyebrow 😉

We will attempt to flesh out our modest proposals further with the launch of our Manifesto in October. But we’re not attempting to get elected to anything – we’re merely hoping to gain your interest and win your support. The Manifesto will be a living, breathing document, open to all for fresh ideas and input as the campaign progresses.

So without further ado, let’s get on with the show…

*[if you’ve come here from the About #Cumberphone page, you’ll have read some of this introductory preamble already – but if you scroll down (approx. a quarter of the way) – you’ll find quite a bit of new content on who we are, what we’re all about and what our Campaign and Manifesto hopes to achieve…]*

The Cumberphone Campaign has been launched to finally and properly address the vexing issue of mobile phones in theatres. It’s got to be more than simply “turn it off” or “no photos”, with varying pre-show announcements and haphazard brave ushering. We need a unified approach across Theatreland, and we need it now. If we in Theatre can harness our collective imagination and creativity to the fullest (something we should be pretty good at), combined with tech savvy and marketing nous, then we can hopefully have a dramatic impact.

To make your #cumberphone video message for “The Cumbies” Awards, please visit our Awards page: “The Cumbies “– tackling the issue of Mobile Phones in Theatres, one showtune and soliloquy at a time.

For inspiration, check out these brilliant pre-screening “Don’t Talk” shorts from the Alamo Drafthouse cinema chain in the U.S. – Hollywood’s finest doing doing their bit for the cause.

The Society of London Theatres, Equity and The Stage* et al will hopefully get behind the Cumberphone Campaign soon, and we aim to enlist the crucial support of the likes of ATG, Delfont Mackintosh, Really Useful Group, Nimax, STAR and others. And most importantly, all of you – an alliance of theatre lovers and theatre professionals, from actors and ushers to producers and critics, and the all-important theatre-going audience  – we must all come together to find a solution. Because we love our phones and we love our theatre – and there’s no reason why we can’t find a way to get them to love each other!

* “Great Campaign – sign me up right now!” – Mark Shenton, The Stage

“Tweet, blog, hashtag the sh*t out of this one” – Benedict Cumberbatch

Twitter – @cumberphone

Enquiries – info@cumberphonecampaign.com

Instagram – https://instagram.com/cumberphonecampaign

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/cumberphone

“We need a big public awareness campaign” – Mark Shenton, The Stage, September 2015

Please Join Us, read the Mobiles Manifesto, and see latest News

You can also get your “Twibbons” (a mini cumberphone logo to add to the corner of your Twitter profile to help spread the word) here – http://tinyurl.com/cumbertwibbon

To share any comments, suggestions or Ideas, please visit our Supporters page.

#cumberphone

Here’s some more info about who we are, who we’re not, and what we’re all about…

We do not claim to have all the answers. Neither can we claim to be the only ones asking the questions. We’re just part of the ensemble, here to help enrich the harmony.

The excellent Theatre Charter was launched in July 2014 – and its founder has been a tireless and fearless champion of promoting better theatre etiquette. We’d urge all of you to read and sign the Charter if it takes your fancy, and follow them on twitter too – a voracious theatre-goer, an avid theatre-lover and a guardian of sanity and decency at the pioneering vanguard of this struggle. We applaud the Charter’s efforts, and the army of 2,000 who have already signed-up – bravo!

The Cumberphone Campaign is somewhat different. Firstly, we’re focusing solely on the issue of mobile phones. Secondly, for us it’s not so much a question of “etiquette” – for many, the very word itself raises hackles (though we of course fully support such a drive to raise standards of behaviour) – but of assisting even the most polite and diligent of theatre-going souls in mastering the art of the phone (e.g. see our Stealth-Phone guide). After all, if even Nicholas Hytner and The Stage’s Mark Shenton and Theatre Charter-backer Terri Paddock’s phones can all go off during a show, then we’re probably facing a struggle against something more than poor etiquette alone.

Above all, we want to make it fun, as we are keenly aware that the Stephen Fry-backed Charter attracted some very unjust flak last summer for being “red-trousered”, “passive-agressive”, “theatre police” etc – sadly par-for-the-course whenever us Theatrefolk have the temerity to advocate for Theatre’s special place in our society.

  • We are emphatically not a bunch of “huffy Luddite Luvvies” – we love our phones, we really do. We aim to bring together a broad spectrum of theatre-lovers, from the exasperated angry shushers to the laid-back shoulder-shruggers.

So the Cumberphone Campaign is merely here to lend a cheerful helping hand along the trail that has been blazed by our Chartist friends. Think of us, if you like, as Friends of the Earth to their Greenpeace, or as Professor Brian Cox to their Richard Dawkins.

Our Mobiles Manifesto concentrates on offering some positive steps (some far-fetched, some surely a no-brainer) that we in Theatreland can take towards better addressing this issue collectively.

There’s no panacea, no one solution.

But surely, if we all pull together, we can do better? Because at the moment, the phones are winning – but they’re our phones, so let’s show them who’s boss! They’re always going to go off from time to time no matter what we do, but at the moment we’re just making it far too easy for them. We can’t sniff at them over our pince-nez and hope for the best, but neither should we throw our hands up in the air and simply give up. It’s also understandable that so many of us these days (and that number is only going to increase with the newer generation of theatre-goers and the further proliferation and integration of tech into our very personhood) think selfies and filming and mid-show texting is ok – we’re addicted, aren’t we?

You can even use your phone on the Tube and on airplanes now. The Theatre is one of the few remaining bastions, or rather refuges – and we should aim to more enticingly sell it as such. We should think of it less as a fortress, and more as a spa – regarded not just as a place where you can’t use your phone as you normally would for the other 21 hours of your small-screen-dominated day, but rather a place where we feel we are relieved and grateful not to be able to do so. It should feel less like entering a prison camp, and more like going to your best friend’s wedding or your grandmother’s funeral – where the concern about your phone intruding upon the event is paramount (well, after the joy/sorrow of the important family occasion, naturally).

We’re not anti-phone at all. Far from it – we’re very pro-phone, and so we’d simply like Theatre to catch up a little faster please.

We want Theatre to better embrace technology (no, we’re not advocating for “tweet seats” – an “operatically stupid” idea in the eyes of many) – we want better WiFi; we want more e-ticketing and theatre apps (no, we’re not sponsored by TodayTix); we want more digital programmes and content (NT Backstage is great, and they’re finally getting a proper mobile site up soon too); we want more NT Live and Digital Theatre and the like; and we want theatres to interact with the audience through their phones far better than they do now.

Great efforts are being made to have us buy our interval drinks through ATG’s Ordertorium app (with accompanying all-seats leaflet drop) and via the likes of the Barbican Bars app. So why not make more of an effort to sell us ideas through our phones, rather than just tickets and drinks and programmes? Perhaps, for instance, we’d be more likely to turn our phones off if we were texted a link to a star-studded funny short film (like these) than blared at over a PA system?

Education and a cultural shift will only go so far however. In the West End in particular a huge proportion of the audience are from overseas or out-of-town and often irregular theatre-goers – so no amount of brilliant and ceaseless coverage in the likes of The Stage is going to have much of a direct significant impact on these folk.

So our best option is to do a better job of the pre-show routine. But this isn’t just about the announcements a few moments before curtains-up – however funny or pleading or threatening they may be. From the moment you buy your tickets, there are a number of ‘nudges’ that can be deployed to better prepare theatre-goers. We aim to better institutionalise these processes across the industry – and there’s safety in numbers. No one theatre or production wants to be that awkward, prissy, irascible nerd who won’t stop banging on about mobile phones, do they? But some can certainly blaze a trail.

Places like the Lyric Hammersmith who do so much work with young people should integrate phone-ed into their outreach, productions like the record-sell-outs that are the Barbican’s Hamlet, the Menier’s Funny Girl or the forthcoming Leicester Curve tour of Pixie Lott in Breakfast at Tiffany’s will be able to reach out to fresh parts of the audience, and we hope they embrace that opportunity. Interactive rowdy musicals like Rocky Horror, or smash hits like Mormon, can grab the audience by the figurative throat. And Hangmen at the Royal Court, well, you can see where we’re going with this.

Hampstead and the Almeida, as well as transferring brilliant productions, can also be conduits for innovative phone initiatives too. (Anyone who saw Privacy at the Donmar and who didn’t change their phone’s meta-data-gathering location settings afterwards, raise your hand.) Michael Grandage (with his great pricing initiatives) and Kenneth Branagh (nice trailers by the way) and the new regimes at the National and the Old Vic – let’s see what you’ve got. And as for the exciting new Hytner/Starr theatre – what a golden opportunity to get things right from the outset.

Sorry if this all sounds too London-centric – we just thought we should probably start by shooting the fish in that barrel first. But through the likes of ATG and START – and a dedicated band of touring actors – we hope to spread far and wide. The West End may be the epicentre of the Theatre universe, but – just as the Nicene Creed wasn’t born in Bethlehem – we fully expect some brilliant idea or shining beacon of excellence to emerge from the likes of Chichester Festival, Theatre Royal Bath, the Edinburgh Fringe, or perhaps the Sheffield Crucible with its wealth of experience hosting the ultimate of all hear-a-pin-drop events, Snooker. So it’s not just about London, and it’s not solely about “theatre” – those companies and venues who produce dance, recitals, concerts, gigs, stand-ups – there’s plenty to be learnt and shared across the board and we welcome ideas from all quarters.

Theatre can draw on the most creative, funny and inspiring bunch. Phones are a bit of an issue, aren’t they, and not just at the theatre, so let’s see if we can do something about it then shall we? If not us, then who? If not now, then when?

As for the pre-show announcements – be they films, safety curtain projections, a polite FOH manager or an hilarious cast member – they need, in our view, to be more substantial. They should not be brief reminders or stern threats – they should be an integral part of the theatre-going experience. We need to consider the notion of having them more akin to the old Curtain-Raisers. And not to the detriment of, or distraction from, the main event either – but something positive that can serve to warm up the audience and bring us all together (that band playing before One Man, Two Guvnors being a superb example of how to get everyone properly in the mood). More like a 5-star gourmet amuse-bouche served ‘compliments of the chef’ than a basket of stale bread just plonked down on the table by an underpaid tip-less waiter as they monotonously read from the ‘specials’ board.

That’s not to say, of course, that one size fits all – whether that be technological or theatrical. What works in the Arcola or at The Park isn’t necessarily going to fly in Drury Lane or the Apollo. We get that.

It’s our sincere hope that this campaign can play its small part in bringing us all together to discuss these issues and explore these ideas perhaps a little better and more substantially than we’ve managed to thus far. And crucially, in discussing them, to focus on how to actually implement them and establish industry-wide best practice.

We’ll give it a go anyway. And we hope that you’ll be willing to be part of that conversation with us. At times some of our rhetoric may seem a little too strident or florid for some people’s tastes – but, hey, it’s a campaign after all, and we want it to be fun (dramatic, even, although we’ll try our hardest not too flounce too much), so we hope you’ll forgive us our foibles.

If you’ve come this far, maybe (hopefully) you’re willing to come a little further…

Along the way we’ll do our utmost to always respect the fact that theatres and those running them have a ridiculous amount on their plates – not least the most basic concerns over funding to ensure survival, and the monumental effort it takes just to put on a show – without us adding to their worries.  We don’t wish to be a thorn in anyone’s side – but instead a blooming rose. And for those wonderful performers we hope to enlist along the way, we appreciate there are a plethora of other good-causes more worthy of your attention, to say nothing of lines to learn, marks to find and digs to locate.

Most of all we’ll always aim to improve and to be inclusive – all ideas welcome, all contributions valued.

“No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail Better.” – Samuel Beckett

Lastly, we’d like to point out that we have no official connection to, or endorsement (yet!) from, Benedict Cumberbatch – beyond his sterling and unfailingly polite call to arms (to “Tweet, blog, hashtag the sh*t out of this one”) – we just felt that #cumberphone seemed a fitting and fun epithet with which to kick it all off.

Neither do we have any official connection to any theatre company, production company, publication or organisation. We are merely a small but growing rag-tag band of theatre professionals and theatre-lovers who wish to remain anonymous – we wouldn’t want anyone to be reprimanded or sacked for playing a full-throated part in this campaign, now would we? Or, for that matter, for any disagreements or divergence of opinion about this particular issue to have an impact on our professional or personal relationships with one another.

In any case, it doesn’t really matter who we are personally, for we are all of us – we are you (unless you’re reading this during a show!). As some of us depart the fray – perhaps to go away on tour, trapped in the bowels of a regional theatre dressing room, out of reach of decent WiFi – others will step in to take our place, like a rolling wave of advancing, young, petrified Russian soldiers picking up the rifles of their fallen comrades.

So you can do whatever, and you’re in the Treehouse – there’s no secret knock. You can follow us on Twitteradd a twibbon to your profile, become a Show Ambassador, recruit your friends and colleagues, (recruit your triple-threat enemies too), make a Video or Vine, post a #cumberphone pic on Instagram – and most importantly help spread the word. Like the janitor at NASA who told JFK that his job was to help put a man on the Moon, every little helps.

To share any comments, suggestions or ideas, please visit our Supporters page.

If you’d like to follow us on Twitter than we can exchange DMs, but we hope you’ll understand if (for the most part) we’re not able to engage in much frenetic and detailed to-ing-and-fro-ing in reply to open public tweets – that’ll just drive all our other followers potty – although we’ll happily wear out our “favourite” button in response to anything you might have to say. So please feel free to email or DM – but the best place for open discussion is via the Comments section at the bottom of the Supporters page. Thanks.

Obviously our hope is for such discussions to be focused mainly on the obstacles we face and the solutions we can pursue, rather than just a place to let off steam (though we welcome all your phone-related horror stories of course) – or for that matter a place for you to tell us what a bunch of no-hopers and daydream-believers we are, or something perhaps – ahem – less polite (“Cumberdouches”?). But what the hey, honest intelligent criticism is always invaluable. If the whole idea of this campaign is simply not your cup of tea, or particular brand of vodka, then that’s absolutely fine with us – but we’ve seen Chimerica…. and we all remember what it had to say about internet message boards, don’t we? 😉

We hope you’ll be willing to read our Theatreland Mobiles Manifesto too, once it’s released. We look forward to hearing from and working with you all to help realise our vision. Thanks so much for your time and your interest.

PS – our cousin from Broadway is waiting in the wings too… @LuPonePhone

The Cumberphone Campaign is not an organisation – it is an idea.

“Never doubt that s small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the [Theatre] world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

#cumberphone

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Desperate_Business_cartoon_Private_Eye

[©PrivateEye – September 18th 2015]

Best pre-show short film Award – make your #cumberphone video message now!

Cumberphone_Campaign_logo_twitter

The idea of having short, humorous, educational and irreverent films and performances before all shows is a key plank of the Cumberphone Campaign – so if you’re in a show or part of a company and want to make a video…

We are delighted to announce the launch of the 2015 inaugural Cumberphone Campaign Annual Awards – “The Cumbies” – get nominating today! – and click here to view all the award categories for “The Cumbies”…

We’d like to get the ball rolling now by enlisting all of you wonderful theatricals reading this to perform a line, scene or song from your show (or a rival show perhaps) – with words suitably adjusted for the phone-addicted audience – post it online – on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook using #cumberphone – then nominate your fellow professionals to do the same.

It’s like the ice-bucket challenge, crossed with #15secondshakespeare – but less cold!

Avenue Q released this perfect #Cumberphone video on 1st Off-tober 2015!

These are just the kind of videos we’d like to see all shows make and send out via email and text to audiences ahead of attending a show, to help encourage them not to use their phones during the performance – because brief (often faceless) pre-curtain announcements don’t seem to be doing the trick at the moment, do they?

For further inspiration, check out these brilliant pre-screening shorts from the Alamo Drafthouse cinema chain in the U.S. – Hollywood’s finest doing doing their bit for the cause. We think the Michael Madsen Reservoir Dogs one is a peach!

If all those wonderful performers are willing to strip naked for the good cause that is West End Bares, then surely we can pull this off too. It’s like the ice-bucket challenge, crossed with #15secondshakespeare – but less cold!

  • Let’s, Turn, The Phones, Off, Agaaaaaaain – Rocky Horror
  • On My Phone, Pretending He’s Re-Tweeting Me – Les Miserables
  • Good Girrrrrls, Dooooon’t Text – Jersey Boys
  • The Phones Are On In SaigonMiss Saigon
  • Turn It Off. Like a Light-Switch, Just Go Click – Book of Mormon (too easy)
  • If You Were Gay, That’d Be Okay (so long as you didn’t use your phone in the theatre) – Avenue Q
  • We Are The Knights Who Say Niiiii (Phones)! – Spamalot

Let’s make it happen!

We’ll also be compiling a playlist on our CumberTube channel – they can be rough and ready, they can be mere Vines or Snapchat rants, or they can be a Kenneth Branagh Disney extravaganza. Just a few fun ones to get the ball rolling, so that the power-players can see that there’s an appetite for filming proper glossy ones to screen before shows in the near future…

Our Theatreland Mobiles Manifesto will be launching in October – so hopefully we’ll have lots of nominations in before then…

http://tinyurl.com/the-cumbies2015

#cumberphone

We also aim is to enlist at least one Cumberphone Ambassador in each of our great shows in the West End and around the UK. It should be as normal as knowing who your Equity rep is 😉

It won’t involve any onerous duties, just being a point-of-contact, our go-to-guy, our secret sleeper-agent, for when new things happen in the campaign.

We know you’re out there – you may be feeling our tap on your shoulder any day now…

Here’s just a few of the very many examples of recent exasperation from Theatreland’s brightest and best:

Eva Noblezada, Kim, Miss Saigon“I’m sorry, but to sit idly in your seat looking at your BRIGHT screen for minutes is just…really?”  (@EvaNoblezada) – 29th August 2015

Ethan Le Phong, Miss Saigon“We have now routinely been spotting people filming our shows. STOP! It’s RUDE! It’s not a concert! We can see the f*cking red light assh*le!” (@EthanLePhong) – 2nd October 2015

Carrie Hope Fletcher, Eponine, Les Miserables“To the absolute A*SE in the upper circle with your red recording light on… YOU, yes YOU, single-handedly, were putting me off… it’s hugely disrespectful to those on stage and those around you…When it’s a concert it’s sort of the norm… Theatres are a very different atmosphere. You’re told in an announcement right before the curtain goes up and there are signs in the theatre.” (@CarrieHFletcher) –  25th August 2015

John Boydon & Sandy Moffat, Jersey Boys“Never known an audience like this! A girl on her phone all of Act 1” (@Sandy_Moffat) – “I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many phones lit up in an auditorium as tonight… Despite the FOH staff trying their best to stop it. Ridiculous, rude and disheartening.” (@JonBoydon) – 4th September 2015

So come join our Ambassadors Reception… Let’s see if we can make it fun!

Twitter: @cumberphone #cumberphone – tweet, DM or email us if you’d like to help make this happen.

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/cumberphone

We want anyone and everyone to get involved in whatever way they can. Be you a part-time usher, or a full-time Dame, from the back row of the Upper Circle to the back row of the ensemble, it’s come one come all, and all shoulders to the wheel here at the Cumberphone Campaign.

You can do whatever, and you’re in the Treehouse – there’s no secret knock. You can follow us on Twitteradd a twibbon to your profile, become a Show Ambassador, recruit your friends and colleagues, (recruit your triple-threat enemies too), make a Video or Vine, and most importantly help spread the word.

You can read our Mobiles Manifesto, learn a little more about who we are on our Home page

You can also get your “Twibbons” (a mini cumberphone logo to add to the corner of your Twitter profile to help spread the word) here – http://tinyurl.com/cumbertwibbon

The Cumberphone Campaign is not an organisation – it is an idea.

#cumberphone

“The Cumbies” – Awards launched for best and worst of Mobiles at the Theatre

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The #Cumberphone Campaign Awards – “The Cumbies”

Tackling the issue of Mobile Phones at Theatres, one show-tune and soliloquy at a time…

We are delighted to announce the launch of the 2015 inaugural Cumberphone Campaign Annual Awards – “The Cumbies” – get your entry in today – self-nominations are now open! Full awards categories below.

Cumbies-Curtain

“Great Campaign – sign me up right now!” – Mark Shenton, The Stage

“We need a big public awareness campaign” – Mark Shenton, The Stage, September 2015

Indeed we do. And so here it is.

We’d like to get the ball rolling now by enlisting all of you wonderful theatricals reading this to perform a line, portion, scene or song from your show (or a rival show perhaps) – with words suitably adjusted for the phone-addicted audience – post it online – on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook using #cumberphone – then nominate your fellow professionals to do the same.

It’s like the ice-bucket challenge, crossed with #15secondshakespeare – but less cold!

Avenue Q released this perfect #Cumberphone video on 1st Off-tober 2015!

These are just the kind of videos we’d like to see all shows make and send out via email and text to audiences ahead of attending a show, to help encourage them not to use their phones during the performance – because brief (often faceless) pre-curtain announcements don’t seem to be doing the trick at the moment, do they?

But don’t let AvenueQ’s epic brilliance put you off – we’re just after some small ones for now to get the ball rolling. They can be rough and ready, in costume or not, they can be mere 10 second Vines or Snapchat rants, or they can be a 3 minute Kenneth Branagh Disney extravaganza. They can just be you on your own, a few of you in the dressing room, or the entire cast on stage during warm-up – whatever takes your fancy. There’s no limit on the number of entries per performer or show, so keep ’em coming – we just want to help get people talking.

We also welcome entries from the general public and theatre-lovers everywhere.

For further inspiration, check out these brilliant pre-screening shorts from the Alamo Drafthouse cinema chain in the U.S. – Hollywood’s finest doing doing their bit for the cause. We think the Michael Madsen Reservoir Dogs one is a peach!

Our Theatreland Mobiles Manifesto will be launching later in October – so hopefully we’ll have lots of your comic/tragic #cumberphone videos in before then to help kick things off with a smile.

The idea of having short, humorous, educational and irreverent films and performances before all shows is a key plank of the Cumberphone Campaign – so if you’re in a show or part of a company and want to make a short video, please get uploading today!

“The Cumbies” Awards will be annual, but (given just how prevalent those mobile phone intrusions are) there will plenty of chances to earn an Honourable Monthly Mention in some categories…

#cumberphone

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  • Best pre-show short film (comedy, musical and drama categories) – self-nominations open now!
  • Best pre-show cast announcement (Kinky Boots an early favourite)
  • Best pre-show FOH announcement
  • Best pre-show company tweet (e.g. – Globe polite, Mormon direct)
  • Best pre-show individual tweet (also open to the general public)
  • Most egregious example of mobile phone use (monthly)
  • Most inappropriate show-moment for phone interruption (Show Must Go On award)
  • Best mid-show phone reaction from cast (The Richard Griffiths memorial award)
  • Most charming, friendly, humorous response (Hugh Jackman Grace Under Fire award)
  • Best mid-show phone reaction from audience (The Bianca Jagger award)
  • Best post-show tweeting (monthly) (Carrie Hope Fletcher an early favourite)
  • Best Stage Door comment/video (The Benedict Cumberbatch award)
  • Special Award for Theatre doing most (e.g. Jermyn Street trying hard)
  • Special Award for Company doing most (is there a Stealth-Mode phone yet?)
  • Critics Choice Award – Best individual commitment to the cause (or we could just give it to Patti LuPone right now?)
  • “Cumberboo” Award for Bad behaviour (ATT in the lead so far for this shameful advert)

Richard Griffiths poses with his award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play for The History Boys at the 60th annual Tony Awards in New York in this June 11, 2006, file photo. Griffiths, best known for his roles in 'Withnail and I' and the Harry Potter films, has died at the age of 65 after complications following heart surgery, his agent said on March 29, 2013. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/Files (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT PROFILE SOCIETY OBITUARY)

Statuettes – tbc – open competition for the best design, so come on Props, what’ve you got?

Prizes – tbc – we’re thinking overflowing hampers of Apples, Blackberries, Oranges, Bananas, and maybe even these lovely-looking Cumbermuffins

Venue – tbc – possibly outside the Barbican Stage Door, weather permitting. Failing that, I’m sure Cameron will be delighted to accommodate us somewhere plush.

Sponsors – tbc – TodayTix seem quite a lively marketing bunch though, don’t they? Perhaps EE would like to follow in the footsteps of those Orange ‘no-phones’ cinema ads (Kevin Bacon in doublet & hose, “To EE, or not EE”)? Perhaps the silence-obsessed Dyson or Toyota Auris Hybrid might like a bit of stardust sprinkled on them?

Miss-Saigon-text-overlay

And in the U.S.A., we have the #LuPonePhone Campaign Awards – “The Ponies”

Get “self-nominating” today – by uploading your mini-videos via:

Twitter – https://twitter.com/cumberphone #cumberphone

Instagram – https://instagram.com/cumberphonecampaign #cumberphone

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/cumberphone

LesMiz-LuPonePhone-overlay

  • Let’s, Turn, The Phones, Off, Agaaaaaaain – Rocky Horror
  • On My Phone, Pretending He’s Re-Tweeting Me – Les Miserables
  • Good Girrrrrls, Dooooon’t Text – Jersey Boys
  • The Phones Are On In Saigon – Miss Saigon
  • Turn It Off. Like a Light-Switch, Just Go Click – Book of Mormon (too easy)
  • If You Were Gay, That’d Be Okay (so long as you didn’t use your phone in the theatre) – Avenue Q
  • We Are The Knights Who Say Niiiii (Phones)! – Spamalot

Jersey-Boys-text-overlay

Let’s make it happen!

If all those wonderful performers are willing to strip naked for the good cause that is West End Bares, then surely we can pull this off too.

http://tinyurl.com/the-cumbies2015

Mormon-click

You can also get your “Twibbons” (a mini cumberphone logo to add to the corner of your Twitter profile to help spread the word) here – http://tinyurl.com/cumbertwibbon

You can read more info on the Cumberphone Campaign here.

Please let us know (via @cumberphone or on our Supporters page) of any other categories you feel are worthy of inclusion or if you’d be willing to become one of our Cumberphone Show Ambassadors.

You can watch good grace under fire from Hugh Jackman & Patti LuPone here:

And the Orange cinema ads here:

#cumberphone

http://tinyurl.com/the-cumbies2015

Cumberphone’s Mobiles Manifesto to launch in #Offtober

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Cumberphone Campaign “Mobiles Manifesto”

To be launched October 2015…

“Tweet, blog, hashtag the sh*t out of this one” – Benedict Cumberbatch, August 2015

“We need a big public awareness campaign” – Mark Shenton, The Stage, September 2015

“Other than announcements at the start of the show and vigilant theatre staff, we haven’t been given examples of any other measures being taken.” – Society of London Theatre spokeswoman, The Times, August 2015

Hopefully, you soon will…

Twitter – @cumberphone #cumberphone

Enquiries – info@cumberphonecampaign.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/cumberphone

You can also get your “Twibbons” (a mini cumberphone logo to add to the corner of your Twitter profile to help spread the world) here – http://tinyurl.com/cumbertwibbon

#cumberphone

In the meantime…

We will attempt to flesh out our modest proposals further with the launch of our Manifesto in October. But we’re not attempting to get elected to anything – we’re merely hoping to gain your interest and win your support. The Manifesto will be a living, breathing document, open to all for fresh ideas and input as the campaign progresses.

The Cumberphone Campaign has been launched to finally and properly address the vexing issue of mobile phones in theatres. It’s got to be more than simply “turn it off” or “no photos”, with varying pre-show announcements and haphazard brave ushering. We need a unified approach across Theatreland, and we need it now. If we in Theatre can harness our collective imagination and creativity to the fullest (something we should be pretty good at), combined with tech savvy and marketing nous, then we can hopefully have a dramatic impact.

We do not claim to have all the answers. Neither can we claim to be the only ones asking the questions. We’re just part of the ensemble, here to help enrich the harmony.

We are emphatically not a bunch of “huffy Luddite Luvvies” – we love our phones, we really do. (You’re most likely reading this on your phone too, right? Well, so long as you’re not doing it during a show, that’s fine by us). We aim to bring together a broad spectrum of theatre-lovers, from the exasperated angry shushers to the laid-back shoulder-shruggers.

Our Mobiles Manifesto concentrates on offering some positive steps (some far-fetched, some surely a no-brainer) that we in Theatreland can take towards better addressing this issue collectively.

There’s no panacea, no one solution.

But surely, if we all pull together, we can do better? Because at the moment, the phones are winning – but they’re our phones, so let’s show them who’s boss! They’re always going to go off from time to time no matter what we do, but at the moment we’re just making it far too easy for them. We can’t sniff at them over our pince-nez and hope for the best, but neither should we throw our hands up in the air and simply give up. It’s also understandable that so many of us these days (and that number is only going to increase with the newer generation of theatre-goers and the further proliferation and integration of tech into our very personhood) think selfies and filming and mid-show texting is ok – we’re addicted, aren’t we?

You can even use your phone on the Tube and on airplanes now. The Theatre is one of the few remaining bastions, or rather refuges – and we should aim to more enticingly sell it as such. We should think of it less as a fortress, and more as a spa – regarded not just as a place where you can’t use your phone as you normally would for the other 21 hours of your small-screen-dominated day, but rather a place where we feel we are relieved and grateful not to be able to do so. It should feel less like entering a prison camp, and more like going to your best friend’s wedding or your grandmother’s funeral – where the concern about your phone intruding upon the event is paramount (well, after the joy/sorrow of the important family occasion, naturally).

We’re not anti-phone at all. Far from it – we’re very pro-phone, and so we’d simply like Theatre to catch up a little faster please.

We want Theatre to better embrace technology (no, we’re not advocating for “tweet seats” – an “operatically stupid” idea in the eyes of many) – we want better WiFi; we want more e-ticketing and theatre apps (no, we’re not sponsored by TodayTix); we want more digital programmes and content (NT Backstage is great, and they’re finally getting a proper mobile site up soon too); we want more NT Live and Digital Theatre and the like; and we want theatres to interact with the audience through their phones far better than they do now.

Great efforts are being made to have us buy our interval drinks through ATG’s Ordertorium app (with accompanying all-seats leaflet drop) and via the likes of the Barbican Bars app. So why not make more of an effort to sell us ideas through our phones, rather than just tickets and drinks and programmes? Perhaps, for instance, we’d be more likely to turn our phones off if we were texted a link to a star-studded funny short film (like these) than blared at over a PA system?

Education and a cultural shift will only go so far however. In the West End in particular a huge proportion of the audience are from overseas or out-of-town and often irregular theatre-goers – so no amount of brilliant and ceaseless coverage in the likes of The Stage is going to have much of a direct significant impact on these folk.

So our best option is to do a better job of the pre-show routine. But this isn’t just about the announcements a few moments before curtains-up – however funny or pleading or threatening they may be. From the moment you buy your tickets, there are a number of ‘nudges’ that can be deployed to better prepare theatre-goers. We aim to better institutionalise these processes across the industry – and there’s safety in numbers. No one theatre or production wants to be that awkward, prissy, irascible nerd who won’t stop banging on about mobile phones, do they? But some can certainly blaze a trail.

Places like the Lyric Hammersmith who do so much work with young people should integrate phone-ed into their outreach, productions like the record-sell-outs that are the Barbican’s Hamlet, the Menier’s Funny Girl or the forthcoming Leicester Curve tour of Pixie Lott in Breakfast at Tiffany’s will be able to reach out to fresh parts of the audience, and we hope they embrace that opportunity. Interactive rowdy musicals like Rocky Horror, or smash hits like Mormon, can grab the audience by the figurative throat. And Hangmen at the Royal Court, well, you can see where we’re going with this.

Hampstead and the Almeida, as well as transferring brilliant productions, can also be conduits for innovative phone initiatives too. (Anyone who saw Privacy at the Donmar and who didn’t change their phone’s meta-data-gathering location settings afterwards, raise your hand.) Michael Grandage (with his great pricing initiatives) and Kenneth Branagh (nice trailers by the way) and the new regimes at the National and the Old Vic – let’s see what you’ve got. And as for the exciting new Hytner/Starr theatre – what a golden opportunity to get things right from the outset.

Sorry if this all sounds too London-centric – we just thought we should probably start by shooting the fish in that barrel first. But through the likes of ATG and START – and a dedicated band of touring actors – we hope to spread far and wide. The West End may be the epicentre of the Theatre universe, but – just as the Nicene Creed wasn’t born in Bethlehem – we fully expect some brilliant idea or shining beacon of excellence to emerge from the likes of Chichester Festival, Theatre Royal Bath, the Edinburgh Fringe, or perhaps the Sheffield Crucible with its wealth of experience hosting the ultimate of all hear-a-pin-drop events, Snooker. So it’s not just about London, and it’s not solely about “theatre” – those companies and venues who produce dance, recitals, concerts, gigs, stand-ups – there’s plenty to be learnt and shared across the board and we welcome ideas from all quarters.

Theatre can draw on the most creative, funny and inspiring bunch. Phones are a bit of an issue, aren’t they, and not just at the theatre, so let’s see if we can do something about it then shall we? If not us, then who? If not now, then when?

As for the pre-show announcements – be they films, safety curtain projections, a polite FOH manager or an hilarious cast member – they need, in our view, to be more substantial. They should not be brief reminders or stern threats – they should be an integral part of the theatre-going experience. We need to consider the notion of having them more akin to the old Curtain-Raisers. And not to the detriment of, or distraction from, the main event either – but something positive that can serve to warm up the audience and bring us all together (that band playing before One Man, Two Guvnors being a superb example of how to get everyone properly in the mood). More like a 5-star gourmet amuse-bouche served ‘compliments of the chef’ than a basket of stale bread just plonked down on the table by an underpaid tip-less waiter as they monotonously read from the ‘specials’ board.

That’s not to say, of course, that one size fits all – whether that be technological or theatrical. What works in the Arcola or at The Park isn’t necessarily going to fly in Drury Lane or the Apollo. We get that.

It’s our sincere hope that this campaign can play its small part in bringing us all together to discuss these issues and explore these ideas perhaps a little better and more substantially than we’ve managed to thus far. And crucially, in discussing them, to focus on how to actually implement them and establish industry-wide best practice.

#cumberphone