Kenny got in trouble! Kenny got in trouble!


By a 20 year old volunteer usher named Tibor (ok, his name really wasn’t Tibor – he just reminded me of a Tibor I knew once).

My offense?

I was trying to take a picture . . . for all of you.

Here’s how the felonious photo went down.  I went to see Hair in the park last night (a perfect setting for an imperfect musical), and grabbed my iPhone to snap a photo of what I thought was a post-curtain call party.

See, Director Diane Paulus, served up a sweet Donkey-show style dessert for us, filling the stage with audience members and turning the Delacorte into a dance club – 60s style.

It was something to see

And it was certainly something to take a photo of.

I know the rules.  But certainly they couldn’t apply to this, right?  This was a beautiful free-for-all.  If the insurance agents let it happen, surely the unions would allow a photo or two.

Wrong.  As I snapped, I heard Tibor’s bellowing war cry of “NO PHOTOS!” and then he demanded to watch me delete the photo!  Wow.  Tough love, huh?

So I don’t have a photo for you today.  Because Tibor stole it from us.

Yes he was doing his job.  But he also did the show a disservice.

Why do we take photos?  We do it because we think whatever is happening is worth sharing with other people.

The act of taking a photo is literally loading a word of mouth weapon.  And your audience is your army.  The more ammo they have the better.

I’m not giving people carte blanche to take photos during the 4th scene of the 2nd Act of Phantom.  Taking photos is not appropriate in many situations – for the safety of the perfomers and to prevent distractions for the rest of the audience.

But as a Producer I look for every opportunity to get photos on my audience member’s cameras so they can fire them all over MySpace, Flikr, Facebook and yes, their blogs.

What can you do to make sure your audience members are taking home “legal” digital memories of their experience?  Have a “cut-out” in the lobby they can take a picture with?  Have your cast come out and sign autographs in costume right after the show comes down?  Or ask the union for a special waiver for the post-curtain call party that occurs on stage with 150 non cast-members?

Or just tell Tibor to take a pill.  Because what he didn’t realize was that as he waited for me to delete my one photo, the woman in front of me was capturing some video on her cell phone.

There are times to follow the rules.  And then there are times when there are so many rule breakers, that you’ve got to realize that maybe your rules are too restrictive.

  • Chris says:

    I saw this Saturday evening, and there were several people in front of me trying to take pictures as well – those ushers were amazing with how quick they got to the photographers.
    To me, in this particularly instance it’s not only a bad producing move, but it’s simply against the spirit of the show to be so restrictive. Hair celebrates freedom and openness, and they’re trying to restrict images of the show. Very counter-message in my mind!

  • I was at the show last night as well. And if you had actually gotten away with that photo you would have had a record of ME dancing on that stage (a photo which, by jove, I wish I had…)!
    AND, just so you know who else is in the felonious club of yours, Tibor busted me, too. In the past few days I’ve seen a few people getting nabbed for this type of action, so I begrudgingly respected the rules (and in the case of HAIR I agree that stricter photo policies are necessary – especially given the fact that there is a nude scene). HOWEVER – after the show, outside the theatre, we walked by the stage door I spotted James Rado. I snapped a photo and the draconian security team descended on me en force, making the loud proclamation that you could not snap photos unless you have EXPRESS VERBAL PERMISSION of the actor. And then they made me delete my photo.
    I think that’s taking it a little too far.

  • MissPinkKate says:

    Heh, when I was there my friend took some photos from the middle of the dancing throng, and nobody stopped us.

  • Scott says:

    ….But as a Producer I look for every opportunity to get photos on my audience member’s cameras so they can fire them all over MySpace, Flikr, Facebook and yes, their blogs…..
    But… uhmmm…HAIR isn’t YOUR show, is it? How much are you willing to pay those actors and designers for their likenesses and designs that could show up elsewhere with no remuneration (e.g., the Love! Valour! Compassion! and Urinetown lawsuits)

  • Robin says:

    Scott’s position only works if there are no official photographs of the actors or designs. Otherwise the information is out there.
    Distracting actors or audience members during a performance is not acceptable. But generally, people who want to take a picture like this love theater, they see everything they can, they tell their friends. Why alienate your fans? I vote for taking a pill.

  • Theresa Dayton says:

    Slightly related- What are your thoughts about the bootleg/trading thing? Secretly recording entire shows, etc? Help, hurt or doesn’t affect Broadway and ticket sales?

  • My assistant and I are getting t-shirts made that say…
    “Tell Tibor to take a pill”.
    When I first started my position here at the California Center for the Arts, the House Manager made all the ushers wear buttons with an image of a camera and a big red circle with a line through it (ala Ghostbusters). One of the first things I did was make him throw them away.

  • Rocco says:

    They are fierce at the Delacorte! 2 summers ago at the talkback with David Hare after the Stuff Happens reading, some guy took a picture and a pack of ushers descended on the poor guy from all directions and scared him half to death, not to mention greatly disturbed the talkback itself.
    However, 2 things. One, as you said Tibor was only doing his job. He’s not responsible for the policy of the theatre. And two, WE understand the difference between taking pictures during the show and taking pictures before and after it, but lots of people don’t. You kinda have to set the standard that there are no pics allowed anywhere in the theatre at all ever if you want to protect the actors and the audience from annoying flash photography.
    Oh wait, and 3, not letting people take pictures of those leaving the stage door is absolute lunacy. What is this, Lenin’s tomb??

  • tenspot says:

    When I go to the ballpark (Shea/Yankee) I’ve never heard any announcement regarding the taking of pictures. Thousands do!
    You mentioned something about union rules. Can you elaborate? Is this some Broadway thing?
    How can the security/ushers force you to delete photos. Just refuse. Are thet gonna backroom you like in Vegas?
    What law are you breaking?
    There’s a specific NYC local law banning talking on cell phones in theaters; nothing about taking photos.

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