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Give This Man A Standing Ovation
An actor on London's West End makes short work of a woman whose cell phone rang during a play:

The actor Richard Griffiths has launched a furious tirade against mobile phones after ejecting a member of the audience from his West End play when her ringtone sounded for the third time.

Griffiths, known for his roles as Uncle Vernon in the Harry Potter films and Uncle Monty in the cult hit Withnail and I, was somewhat less than avuncular when his lines in the tense penultimate scene of the play Heroes were interrupted by the mobile phone call on Saturday.

He stopped mid-scene and asked: "Could the person whose mobile phone it is please leave?"

When he pinpointed the female offender, he addressed her directly, saying: "Is that it, or will it be ringing some more?

"The 750 people here would be fully justified in suing you for ruining their afternoon."

As the woman left the auditorium at the Wyndham's Theatre, the audience gave Griffiths a standing ovation before the play, also starring John Hurt, continued.

Griffiths was unrepentant yesterday about his zero tolerance stance. He said: "It was one of the last scenes of the play and I had already had to restart the speech twice because her phone had gone off.

"I didn't say anything until the third time, when I just thought it was too much. It is a question of respect and it goes right across the board of society.

"It's like delinquent youths on the street and the attitude of people on trains - people just do not think about the other person's point of view any more and mobile phones going off in the theatre are part of the problem."

David Pugh, the play's producer, said ringtone interruptions were a nightly problem for theatres, despite pleas for people to switch their mobiles off before productions start.

It is not the first time Griffiths has come up against the problem of mobile phones.

Last year, he was in the middle of a particularly dramatic scene of The History Boys at the National Theatre when a phone belonging to a man in the front row went off for the sixth time during the course of the play.

The actor stopped in the middle of his speech, fixed the offender with an icy stare and said: "I am asking you to stand up, leave this auditorium and never, ever come back."

Other members of the audience applauded as the man left the theatre, although it later emerged that he was hard of hearing and had not heard the mobile ringing.

Lawrence Fishburne did likewise -- I think he was the first, in fact -- in the middle of "A Lion In Winter" on Broadway in New York, giving the offender his patented glare (which could strip paint) and snarling something like "turn the fucking thing off!"

In my own little personal stage, I was just in Daffy's in New York, futilely searching for a warm coat that didn't make me look like the Michelin Man, when a woman going through the rack next to me was bellowing into her phone. She showed no indication that she'd notice other life forms besides herself on the planet, so I was, imagine that, forced to take matters into my own hands. My solution? Singing the Hari Krishna song, with a few creative additions about how her conversation was annoying the hell out of me. Her response (to the person on the other end). "I have to get off, there's a really rude crazy woman next to me, and I can't hear a thing."

Posted by aalkon at November 23, 2005 8:09 AM

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Reading this post MADE MY DAY!

Now I have nothing more to say

Except one thing if that's ok

Amy, I hope you have a great day!
(Oh, and find that perfect coat, too.)

Posted by: Claire at November 23, 2005 7:57 AM

That's hilarious!

I read somewhere - I think on BoingBoing - that a guy was going around New York with a portable amplifier and microphone. He would hold the mic up to anybody who was loudly blabbering away on their phone and amplify the hell out of it.

Posted by: Todd Fletcher at November 23, 2005 10:09 AM

I feel so much better now, I can't even tell you. Loved Griffiths before, love him more now.

Posted by: Peregrine John at November 23, 2005 10:56 AM

Hello Amy,

"Lawrence Fishburne did likewise"

Cool. When I was in New York City 6 years ago, I enjoyed a (cell phone free) performance of "Lion". Liked it very much: Memorable acting all around, not only by Lawrence, but also by Stockard Channing and Emily Bergl. (In fact, I still have the playbill somewhere, so I could even look up who played Richard and John.)

A couple of years ago I heard the rumor that Al Pacino treated "his" cell phone offender during a stage performance like this: He walked off the stage, grabbed the phone and said something like: "Hi, my name is Al Pacino, I'm trying to work here. Could you please call back later? Thank you very much." Then he hung up and continued his performance.

Unfortunately, I can't find any source on the web to confirm this one, but I think it's the most creative solution for this kind of acting problem. ;-)

P.S. (Off topic): Did you learn that Michael Broder resigned from his position as president of the Albert Ellis Institute? Must have been your call, Amy...

Posted by: Rainer at November 23, 2005 4:26 PM

Wow...great news about Broder. And the Pacino thing is just hilarious.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 23, 2005 5:05 PM

Oh, you know what I do--I start describing a really gory accident on the freeway, with body parts, gushing fluids, etc. My kids get embarrassed, but usually the offender is so horrified that thney forget their own conversations.

Posted by: KateCoe at November 23, 2005 5:32 PM

I was flipping through a design magazine today and found this: shhh! The site offers a downloadable .pdf of cards you can print out and hand to the offensive boor. They say things like "We are aware that your ongoing conversation about [fill in blank] is very important to you, but we thought you’d like to know that it doesn’t interest us in the least. In fact, your babbling disregard for others is more than a little annoying. "

I immediately thought you might like these, Amy!

Posted by: swayframe at November 26, 2005 1:28 PM

I actually came up with similar cards way back --

"Just because you have a self doesn't mean you should feel free to express it..."

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 26, 2005 2:18 PM

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