Okay, so today’s post is a bit more opinionated than the stuff I usually post on here. I understand that the opinion expressed below might not be a popular one and may even be contrary to the feelings of my friends and contemporaries. However, it’s gotten to the point where I feel like I need to say something for the sake of everyone involved in the performing arts community. Simply put:
Please stop recording live shows on your phones.
A few weeks ago, I was a fortunate enough to attend an original dance production called Tassel & Tease at the Pearl. I kicked back with some of the girls from Qi-POW!, excited to be an audience member for once, as the lights shifted and the music kicked in. As if on cue, the glow of screens rose before me, table by table, as the people around me settled in to enjoy the performance… through their phone cameras.
How is watching an entire show through your phone screen an enjoyable experience? It’s bad audience behavior; it’s been lambasted many times by many people in many, many, many different places. However, it seems to be a growing problem– one that parallels the dependence on smart phones for stimulation worldwide. (China’s #3 in the world, in case you were wondering.)
Source: Yahoo! Tech
So what’s the big deal?, you ask. I’m just having fun! I want to remember it later! I want to show my friends! I want to be supportive!
Here are five reasons why you should stop recording live shows on your phone.
Reason 1: It violates an artist’s ownership of their intellectual property.
Most performers I know work very hard to make sure their acts are polished, conceptual, and unique. When mobile phone footage of their work starts floating around social media, it makes it easy for other performers to steal their choreography and ideas. Here’s the thing: I love being inspired by other artists and enjoy having my work out there for others to see. However, you shouldn’t assume this is the case. It can be especially damaging for designers and choreographers who then see their work being ripped off without being given any royalties or credit.
Reason 2: It’s disrespectful to the artists.
One of the joys of performing live is the wordless exchange that happens between performers and audience. I love finding someone to give a little extra attention to as I execute a cheeky piece of choreograp
hy. I’m giving them my art and they’re giving me their real-time acknowledgment of my hard work. If your face is buried in your phone, it’s the theater equivalent of texting at the dinner table. It doesn’t matter if you’re recording me– the energy I get from a screen isn’t the same as the energy I get from eye contact.
Not to mention– if your friends wanted to see the show, they should have bought a ticket! Your patronage helps me produce more cool experiences for you to enjoy. Showing people what I do for free doesn’t.
Reason 3: It spoils the experience for your fellow patrons.
What’s better– a clear view of the stage or a view polluted by screens every few feet? Our eyes have a hard time ignoring bright and/or moving images in our periphery. Holding up a phone or tablet is really distracting for the other people who paid good money to see the show.
Not cool, bro.
Reason 4: There’s probably a person with a much nicer camera doing it already.
All of our Qi-POW! shows are shot by an awesome full-time pro photographer. Those photos are then released on Facebook and WeChat for the public to share. We have also paid for professional videography services which we then intend to share with the public as well. If you really wanna show your friends, just wait a day or two and then share the good shots and video clips– the ones where you can actually make out people’s faces and clearly hear the audio. How many people actually go back and watch those videos, anyway?!
Reason 5: Live in the moment.
Live shows exist to bring images and sound to life. They provide a rare moment of witnessing other humans do really cool stuff right in front of your eyes. There’s a reason why taking photos and video is banned by law at all Broadway shows. Seeing the beads of sweat roll down the skin of a person who’s bearing their soul right in front of you gives you almost indescribable feelings of awe. That’s the point– it’s a temporary and beautiful moment of shared humanity. For the love of art, for the love of inspiration, for the love of being alive– put down your phone and experience this moment with me.
Until next time…!
Disclaimer: Here’s the thing, I’m not opposed to all recording of shows on principle. Sometimes, you get inspired! You want to recognize a person’s work! You want to brag on your friends! Just stop recording entire shows, alright? Snap your pic, take your video, then put your phone away and enjoy the show. Thanks.