London theaters can block audiences’ phones after illicit James Norton photos

Theater audiences in London’s West End could be made to lock their phones to prevent illicit images of actors being taken during performances.

The suggestion comes after nude photos of James Norton on set from A Little Life were published on MailOnline.

The images were quickly removed after outrage on Twitterand audiences pointed out that the theater had handed out camera phone stickers and flyers saying filming was not allowed.

“I would be very surprised if this latest incident doesn’t act as a trigger for audiences to put their phones in safe deposit boxes on shows starring celebrities or musical numbers that people want to film.” said Alistair Smith, the editor of the Stage newspaper.

Dr. Kirsty Sedgman, editor of the Audience Research book series and author of On Being Unreasonable, agreed that Norton’s photos were so clearly an “absolute violation of the unwritten contract between the public and artists” that it could lead to change.

“We’ve recently seen legal action taken against things like upskirting, which acknowledges that sharing any part of yourself naked without your consent is absolutely immoral,” he said.

“It could well be that this is the incident that shocks theaters and actors to the point that all performances will deny people their phones entirely by forcing them to use lockboxes and bags.”

Norton wasn’t the first actor to have his image taken illegally during a performance: last year, American actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson said he was dismayed by the leak of a nude photo of his co-star Jesse Williams in Take Me Out. .

Theaters and actors have struggled to contain the problem without taking people’s phones away. Audiences at Good, a play starring David Tennant, and Cabaret, starring Eddie Redmayne, had stickers attached to their phone cameras. Benedict Cumberbatch appealed directly to the audience at Barbican’s Hamlet to help him stop filming with camera phones.

Smith said filming actors on stage was in a different league of offending behavior than the recent surge in complaints about rowdy conduct by theatergoers.

“People who misbehave in the theater because they’ve had too much to drink, often alcohol sold by the theater itself, or who go to a play expecting a party because the theater bills itself as ‘the best party in town.’ , they are another type who decide to take their photos despite being explicitly warned by the theater that it is not allowed, and sometimes even after being given stickers to place over their cameras,” he said.

But Sedgman said the general rules banning the use of phones in auditoriums could cause problems for those who use their devices as an aid for the disabled: The producers of Broadway’s Hadestown had to apologize to an audience member last year after having a cast member publicly berate her after she had her subtitles mixed up. device for a recording device.

However, some performances have found a way to embrace the use of camera phones by the public. Six, the multi-award winning Broadway musical, invites the public to film and photograph the final dance.

Related: A Little Life, starring James Norton, in pictures

“We’ve always liked the audience to capture the Megamix, the last two minutes of the night,” said Kenny Wax, producer of Six and vice-president of the Society of London Theatre.

Wax does not approve of the public filming or taking pictures during performances. But, he said, in Six’s last two minutes “we’re not telling stories, building characters or creating suspense.”

He said that allowing the Megamix footage to be shared online had increased Six’s popularity.

“Sharing these videos across all social media platforms was a key marketing strategy in the early months of the show, when we were building the brand and at the time the title was largely unknown,” he said. “I have no doubt that the broadcast of Megamix raised awareness for the show, which coined the phrase ‘money can’t buy’.”

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