China Is Shining a Light on Use of Cell Phones in Theatres

News   China Is Shining a Light on Use of Cell Phones in Theatres
“Laser shaming” is the latest attempt to stop cell-phone use during a performance.

Theatres and other venues in China have taken a new approach to those who insist on using their cell phones during a performance.

According to report in the New York Times, ushers, who are situated above or around the audience, are now utilizing red or green laser beams aimed at the cell phone screens of theatregoers. Ushers shine the light until the cell phone is turned off.

The key to success, according to Yang Hongjie, a deputy director of the theatre affairs department at China's National Center, is to make use of the laser system early in the performance so theatregoers will refrain from sneaking a photo or using the device throughout the entire show.

Italian mezzo-soprano Giuseppina Piunti, who starred in the title role of Carmen at the National Center, told the Times that the system is "very smart, very fast, very effective…They should use the lasers all over the world. I can see the lasers from the stage, but it’s much less distracting than the flash cameras, and the ushers running up and down the aisles.”

Ushers, Hongjie explained, are trained to aim at theatregoers from behind, to avoid lasers hitting the eye, which is one risk of the system.

Whether such a system will be used in the U.S. has not been addressed.

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