Embracing the Change with Google Glass
There is a famous story associated with Patti LuPone and Gypsy. And as much as it hurts me to disagree with this Broadway legend, a recent article by a Broadway producer has emphasised that the time is up on one out-of-date rule in the theatre. All thanks to the latest Google invention . . . Google Glass.
It all happened the night before the closing of 2008 Broadway’s Gypsy starring Patti LuPone. Just before her biggest song of the show, ‘Rose’s Turn’, Patti LuPone saw a flash from a camera go off in the audience a couple of times. At which point she was so enraged by the photographer that she actually stopped the show mid-song to yell at this photographer from the stage, demand the lights in the theatre come up and the ushers find them and throw them out of the theatre. Once all this had been done the show continued as per the script, but the rant became a new addition to Broadway history.
In fact, this rant has overshadowed the entire season of that show. Type ‘Patti LuPone’ and ‘Gypsy’ into Google and the first result is a video of the infamous night followed by a number of articles in which she was interviewed about her rant. (There is no need to point out the irony that Patti LuPone yelling at a photographer was recorded on a camera)
While this happened four years ago, it is necessary to ask the question whether it is still relevant for today’s audiences?
Every day technology becomes more ingrained in our lives. We have become more dependent on the internet for quick information searches. We are increasingly interconnected with our smartphones to the point where they can predict our behaviour. And don’t even get me started on the boredom that sets in when you lose electricity for an hour or two!
And now technology has a new direction thanks to the incredibly innovative people at Google.
They are basically a slim pair of glasses that allow you to update your social media pages, make video or voice calls, look up information on the internet and even take pictures and video (plus a multitude of other mind-blowing tasks).
At the moment, these glasses are too expensive to have reached the same level of saturation as the iPhone. But there is no doubt that they will in the near future as the price slowly drops. At which point we will have another new technological innovation. Electronic Contact Lenses? Cameras on our fingertips? Your guess is as good as mine!
But the issue lies with our behaviour. We have been conditioned to share exciting things we see and experience and technology has made that increasingly possible. Even the invention of Google Glass allows us to video exactly what we are seeing at the moment and share it online. If the theatre continues to force us to leave these behaviours at the door it will eventually get to the point where the psychological costs of engaging are too great as we have to fight against our instincts to share our experiences.
The current method of ushers trying to quell 2,000 people using their phone isn’t working and every day’s new technological advancement only makes it harder. Maybe it is time to look at how these gadgets and their associated behaviours can be used in the show to make the audience’s experience even better rather than wasting time trying to fight their natural urges to photograph, video and share. After all, it also has some good benefits for promotion!