Illegal filming at the theatre – do we love or loathe it?

Who’s doesn’t enjoy a lazy afternoon on the sofa, with a cup of tea and a scroll through YouTube?

For theatre fans, many of us thrive on being able to watch videos of shows that we love, or would love to see in person but for one reason or another are unable to. This is where bootlegging shows is in our favour. People who somehow manage to sit in a performance and blatantly record the whole thing on their phone or camera with no one around them seeming to notice.

Something that theatre actors bring up a lot is the illegal recording of the shows they are in, with tweets being sent like “Stop filming in the front row” being sent during the interval of shows. It is annoying and distracting for the actors on stage and even more annoying to the people sitting around the person doing it but people still manage to do it with Ushers unaware of it happening. But how wrong do we really think it is?

I’ve been thinking about this blog for a while now but waited until I had the exact wording of an example where it happens, to be able to use. Today, I got it. A performer from a West End show posted a link to a You Tube clip of them performing with the message “I can’t condone piracy. But this is out there so you might as well hear it before it gets taken down”, with a link to the clip.

So my questions is: “do we think illegal recordings of theatre performances are only wrong when it suits us?”

Personally, I am torn as to where I stand on this issue. As an audience member, I would be up in arms if the person sat next to me was distracting me with a phone in my face. But, sat at home watching You Tube videos, I secretly thank them for catching a great moment on film that I got to experience online.

Actors  seem less than happy if they see someone filming their show and often take to social media to rant about it, but when it comes to a great performance they are happy to share it. And if their friends are caught on tape ‘belting their tits off’ with a sensational performance then they are the first ones to share it around on social media with comments like “well done babes, you smashed it last night”. But catch them at a performance where their voice cracks or they aren’t ‘quite in the zone’, then they will tell you its illegal and to remove the recording online.

Are we (and I include myself in this) a little bit contradictory when it comes to the notion of illegal filming at the theatre? Let me know your thoughts on social media Facebook Twitter or you can email me wilma@westendwilma.com. Most excitingly of all you can write me an old fashioned letter now as well to my new PO Box address (PO Box 73609, London, SE13 9EE).