Broadway Play Encourages Phone Use During The Performance

Broadway Play Encourages Phone Use During The Performance

The performance asks the audience to be a part of the show and the larger conversation of technology and privacy by participating with their devices

Sara Roncero-Menendez
  • 28 july 2016

It’s taboo to leave your phone on during a theatrical performance, but the new Off-Broadway play Privacy encourages you to keep them on to make a statement on how much personal data we share every day.

This production stars Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame as the Writer, a man who after a breakup attempts to navigate the world of social media, cataloguing his experience without revealing too much. He soon finds that his online life isn’t as private as he thought as the web seems to know more about him than he originally shared. Along the way, he’s given advice on how to manage it all from different sources like journalists, politicians, and even Randi Zuckerberg, the Facebook creator’s sister (played by an actor, of course). Edward Snowden makes an appearance via video, appropriate since he is the whistleblower who exposed just how much the NSA is able to track the movements of U.S. citizens.

The play premiered in London in 2014, and opened in New York this summer. During the show, the audience is encouraged to take selfies and post them to the Public Theater website. During the show, these selfies then appear on stage. Audience members are also prompted to answer questions posed on stage as auto-completed Google inquiries, such as when a cast member asks “Is it wrong to…” and audience members shout out answers, such as “be French?”

Using the audience’s typical habits as a way of adding to the environment and the production only further strengthens the themes of the play, specifically the desire to be known but also while maintaining a semblance of privacy.


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