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To Film or Not to Film – There Really Is No Question....

Tuesday, 11th Aug 2015

Last week, Benedict Cumberbatch openly disapproved of fans who were trying to film him in his latest West End production of Hamlet.

Describing it as “mortifying”, Cumberbatch addressed fans outside the stage door about the “cameras and red lights” he saw in the audience. He said that the theatre would have to “get strict” moving forward due to the rise in mobile phone usage during performances.

The filming of theatre productions by the audience is likely to become a real bone of contention for acclaimed actors who are making that transition from screen to stage. It’s a different environment and they are sure to need the audience’s support rather than a sea of mobile phones trying to surreptitiously record the performance.

Cumberbatch isn’t the first celebrity to raise this point. When Kevin Spacey performed last year in a performance of Clarence Darrow, he too became the victim of a mobile phone irritant. Instead of someone trying to record the performance, they hadn’t put the phone on silent so it started ringing. A simple oversight? Perhaps; but this mobile phone complacency is becoming all too common in theatre productions and it’s a good thing that the celebrities are taking a stand. If a celebrity makes a comment, People may be more inclined to listen as opposed to the fastidious theatre attendant requests.

It would be such a shame if the use of mobile phones in theatres overshadowed the performance of a highly anticipated performance. In the case of Hamlet, Benedict Cumberbatch has already had to deal with the press taking photos and writing reviews on preview night; something which caused a furore on social media as fans and fellow journalists were quick to show their disapproval that they had overstepped the line. Now the Sherlock star is facing another issue with mobile phone recordings. At some point, one can only hope that the fantastic performance he gives will take centre stage rather than the small number of people trying to overshadow the production.

Hamlet – starring Benedict Cumberbatch - is running for 12 weeks in the West End, ending on 31st October 2015.

Article filed under: Theatre News |