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Bring Your Own TiVo

Shall I share my new pet peeve?

A crusty muttering of “Oh joy, another one” is drowned out by thunderous reader applause and shouts of “Indeed! Huzzah!”.

I have taken against audience members who use their gadgetlicious digicams to capture snippets of theatrical shows.*

Case in point. I was trying to watch Chanbara — The Samurai Sword Show last week in Edinburgh. There was this cute hipster guy in the row in front of me, just to my right. Scruffy blonde beard, green military cap.

Before the show started, he snapped a few photos of the set. Fine, it was nicely designed and maybe he was a student. As the opening tableaux was presented, he took a few more shots. Fair enough. It was a cool set, and the lighting was genius. I wasn’t too sure about how the pictures would come out with only the theatrical lighting, but that really wasn’t my problem.

What was my problem was that, for most of the show, he held his camera, now set to film rather than still, up to record the fight sequences and drumming bits. So while I’m trying to watch the show, I’ve got a mini color tv screen in my field of vision, along with a flashing green light to let us all know that the camera’s rolling.

So. Very. Annoying. If you're going to steal, at least be clever about it and turn off the display and get a camera that doesn't blink.

He took another still shot, for which he accidentally had the flash on. I assume it was an accident because he quickly put the camera under his leg and then looked around to see if the camera police were coming to get him. But then, 3 minutes later, he was unscolded and back to filming. He wasn’t alone. There were at least 5 other cameras up during the show, LCD screens providing illumination for anyone who wanted to catch up on their reading.

So what to do? Rather than wating for his battery to run out, I guess I could have tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Sorry mate, could you turn that off?” But that would have involved reliving several session of “assertive vs. aggressive” therapy. And who wants to risk confrontation when there are Samurai swordsmen only a few rows away?

At the back of the house, the tech guys had a big light/sound board and were running the show from there. I think they should hire an extra person to sit up there and scout out the offending paparazzi pirates. They could then text the seat locations to people in front of the house, who could in turn pinpoint the distracters with laser beams, pointed right into their eyes. Not so bright as to distract the performers, but just bright enough to shame the digital degenerate.

I suppose wiring the seats so that they receive electric shocks might be deemed severe by some, but really … why not be a little aggressive to thwart our threat to freedom? (If it’s good enough for W ….) Yes, freedom I cry — the freedom to enjoy a performance as its designers conceived it.

Or maybe people just need to be trained. Would it be wrong to pack a water pistol and give a quick squirt to the offenders? It works on cats.

* Okay, I suppose there might be a skosh of hypocrisy here in that I sometimes enjoy said snippets when posted on YouTube. However, in these cases, I wasn’t being annoyed by the LCD of the photograhper’s camera.

:: :: ::

The show itself was iffy. While well-lit and smartly staged, the choreography was rather benign. The swords appeared to be plastic, and were lacking the "clank clank" and sparks of actual swordplay that we expected. There was a bit of "comedy" that suffered SNL sydrome — a clever concept that grew grating after 2 minutes, and then lasted another 10.

That said, the drummers' arms, both male and female, were amazing.

I still fail to see what was so compelling about it that would warrent multiple viewings from a 3.2 megapixel camera.

A far better show was The Family. I am not a fan of clowns, but this troupe, Licedei from St. Petersburgh, was brilliant. Funny, silly, surreal, and amazing physical comedy.