An Afternoon at the Theater without my Phone

Last month, I snagged a rush ticket to one of the many, highly anticipated shows hitting Broadway this spring, Second Stage Theater’s production of Take Me Out. A revival of the Tony-Award winning play by Richard Greenberg, I wasn’t overly familiar with the storyline beyond the blurb I read online while grabbing by ticket. Even though I didn’t know exactly what I was getting into, I was still super jazzed — it didn’t hurt that the big-name cast includes Jesse Tyler Ferguson from Modern Family, Patrick J. Adams from Suits, and Jesse Williams from Grey’s Anatomy. Need I say more?

A couple of things happened at the Hayes Theater that Saturday afternoon that I’d never experienced at a Broadway show. With much of the story taking place in the locker room of a professional baseball team, we got some shower scenes with full-on nudity. Because of this (and even more so, the fact that people can’t be trusted), the staff had to ensure the actors’ privacy by keeping the audience from using their phones to snap a picture. So upon entering the theater, I was asked to power down my phone in front of a staff member, who then put my phone in a little pouch, locked it and returned it to me to hold during the show.

I totally get why they needed to do this, and I absolutely support giving the actors a safe space in the theater. But I have to say, holding my phone without being able to see or use it was a whole new level of weird. What was I supposed to do for the 30 minutes before show time? How was I supposed to take my obligatory Playbill photo from my seat? What if someone tried to contact me? I resisted at first and texted from the tiniest of tiny keyboards on my Apple Watch. Ugh, that was a lot of work.

Then I heard my neighbors commenting on how they didn’t know what to do without their phones either, and what a sad statement that is for society. Obviously I was listening to their conversation, what else did I have to do? So I joined in and told them how I was feeling the exact same way. And then we filled the rest of the time until the show began talking about this show, other shows, other things to see and do in NYC, living in NYC and more.

A delightful pair of besties who travel from Arkansas (I’m pretty sure that’s the correct Southern state, I couldn’t take notes in my phone and had to rely on my memory!) to NYC a few times a year to cram in all the theater they can, these were my people. So we talked about all of the shows they saw this trip and what they had left to see. We picked up the conversation during intermission, and they gave me a couple of restaurant recommendations (still have to check out Balthazar in SoHo from their list).

After the show, which was amazing by the way, we all lined up for the staff to remove the lock from the pouch and release our phones back into the wild. These pouches operated kind of like the sensors that stores put on clothing to keep you from walking out the door without paying for them. The staff member just slid the pouch into a little gadget and returned it to me to remove my phone and drop the pouch in a bin of its peers as I walked out of the theater back into the madness of Times Square.

My friends, I made it to the other side…I lived to tell the tale to y’all here today. Not only did I survive being phoneless for a cumulative 45 minutes or so (let’s be real, I can’t fairly include the time the show was happening), I met some nice people, shared what I could to help them and learned a few things too. I didn’t even have a phone before college, and that was just in case of emergencies on the road and obviously a far, far cry from the iPhone I can do pretty much anything on that lives in my pocket today. It’s absolutely bananas how quickly I (and clearly everyone else) became so dependent on these powerful little rectangles. Let this be your reminder to look up every now and then!

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