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The taking of photographs ...

... is strictly prohibited.

We hear that a lot at Proctors. Most shows have a front-of-house announcement that addresses the camera/cellphone issue. And, even if you miss the announcement, it’s in the program, it’s on the bookmark in your program, there are signs.

Of course, some people are going to try it anyway. Not YOU, of course, but someone.

What most people don’t realize is that this isn’t about Proctors trying to be all big and bad and bossy. This is about the company on the stage that has rules about such things and we are charged with enforcing them. That’s the reality of having good shows here. (Did I say "good?" I meant "amazing," "fabulous," "fun," "exciting" … you get the idea.)

The show is a form of art that is copyrighted. Therefore, it is protected, by law, from any form of reproduction, including pictures and video. (Yes, even if you DON’T use your flash.)

So, here we are, mid-show, and someone is taking pictures. If we’re really lucky, we see it before the company does. By "we," I mean the front of house staff … house manager, our volunteer ushers, etc. Whether we see it first, or the company sees it and tells us about it, we need to confiscate your camera/phone and delete the pictures. Yes, really. No, we will not delete the pictures of your wedding and/or children. We’re pretty careful about that.

Do we enjoy doing this? Absolutely not. Do we get yelled at for it? You betcha!

But, it’s a balancing act. Here we have an amazing company of actors and actresses on stage, who are counting on us to protect their images from being spread across the Internet, via Facebook and YouTube, and whatever other personal posting sites there are. And we have a house full of people who are trying to watch the show, paid lots of money to do so, and are trying to have a good time. Except that they’re following the rules and are now distracted by the fact that the photographer sitting near them is not.

So, as quickly and as painlessly as possible, we go get the camera. (Because, yes, they really did mean YOU when they made that announcement!)

And, inevitably, we get accused of being rude about it. I mean, really, as much as I’d love to chat, there’s a show going on and a whole bunch of people who would really like to watch the show and not hear some long-winded (albeit polite) explanation about why we have to enforce this rule. So, yes, it appears rude. We’ll be happy to explain it to you politely, later, when you come to claim your camera, sans pictures and video. Sorry.

Side note: I’ve actually had people argue with me that it was their cellphone and not a camera. If you’re using it to take pictures … just sayin’.

While we’re on the topic, please also do not text or check your e-mail or play Words With Friends during the show. In fact, just turn your phone off and leave it in your pocket. If we see the light from it during the show, we have to ask you to put it away. Why? Because if we see the light, so can everyone else. It’s distracting. And inconsiderate. And, we’re liable to mistake it as an attempt to take pictures.

And we all know what happens then, right?

Cindy LaRoe is the audience services manager at Proctors. She joined the Proctors staff in June 2005 and still believes that Proctors' audiences and volunteers are the best anywhere!

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March 12, 2012
4:27 p.m.

[ Flag Post ]

Confiscating personal property and purusing one's intellectual property without a warrant is illegal! By doing so you commit an offense greater than the alleged purpetrator. The only right you may have is to ask the offending person to leave your establishment and notify law enforcement if you feel a law has been broken.

Gerald J Skrocki

July 26, 2012
7:12 p.m.

[ Flag Post ]

To Gerald J. Skrocki: The "confiscated personal property" is returned to the owner of it AFTER the illegally obtained intellectual property contained in it that belongs to somebody else is removed(deleted) from it. If you, Gerald, are not in fact an intellectual property lawyer please don't publically place your opinion as fact. I see no problem in this type of policy, so long as the remaining image/sound files are not disturbed. It is pretty standard policy across this country, which I can state as fact since I've lived in six states and eleven cities, and have attended public performances in all of them. With so many forms of disclaimers-as mentioned in the piece-visible to the arts patron, that patron would have to be a blatantly ignorant one not to comply.

Dennis Forkel

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