“Welcome to tonight’s performance. Just a reminder to turn off all cellphones so as not to interrupt the show. If you choose not to follow instructions, we will just just shoot a laser beam at you.”
The National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing has instituted a new system in which ushers are given laser pointers. No one will be harmed in the laser-ing. Ushers are instructed to stand on the perimeters of the audience or in the balcony and spot unsuspecting, disrespectful patrons and literally shine a light on their behavior and shame them into “do not disturb” mode.
A patron, Xu Chun, 27, when asked if the lasers were distracting said: “Of course it’s distracting. But seeing lighted-up screens is even more distracting.”
Leaders in the theatre community are impressed by audience turn out at live performances but are very quickly realizing that need to train people how to behave in these settings. The younger patrons are simply not used to this kind of spectatorship in this day and age. In the modern moment it is very rare to ask for someone’s full attention for longer than a few minutes. Lasers help.