Washington Theater Will Encourage Their Patrons To Text

By Sean O'Connell 2011-12-05 14:42:58discussion comments
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It’s common knowledge that texting, talking or updating social media on your cellphone while sitting in a darkened theater is frowned upon. Heck, the infamous Alamo Drafthouse ridiculed one of its patrons for doing just that in one of the most memorable PSAs of recent memory.

But what if a theater were to sprint in the opposite direction and actually encourage cellphone use? Would you bother attending?

The Tateuchi Center in Bellevue, Wash., is banking on it, according to the New York Times, targeting younger patrons by losing its cellphone restrictions for the performance space that’s expected to open in 2014. “This is the wave of the future for the people we worry about attracting,” said John Haynes, the theater’s executive director. “Simply forbidding it and embarrassing people is not the way to go. So we are wiring the building in anticipation of finding ways to make it work over time.”

Sports venues are facing similar decisions. Football stadiums contemplating renovations are having to factor in fantasy football players who are just as interested in the performances of their fantasy players as they are in the men on the field. You are hearing more NFL executives talk about having to have screens and wireless Internet capability so that they can entertain patrons seeking an immersive game-day experience.

But is it different in the theater? Would it be considered distracting to your fellow patrons to be texting during a performance? Is it rude to the artists attempting to entertain? Or are you free to do whatever you’d like once you have paid for the ticket? I’d draw the line at talking during a phone call. But texting or Tweeting seems fair game … particularly if everyone else in the theater is equally busy hammering away. I’m eager to see how this plays out, and if other theaters across the country follow the Tateuchi Center’s lead.

(Texting image via Shutterstock)
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