Next time you see a play in New York City be very sure not to use your cell phone during the performance… not only because it’s really, really rude, but also just in case you are sitting next to Kevin Williamson.
Williamson, who is the Deputy Managing Editor for The National Review and writes about theater for New Criterion, was in attendance at a performance of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, a cabaret-style musical adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. The production takes place in a tent and the audience is seated at small tables, which led to an incident in which Williamson was thrown out for throwing another close-sitting patron’s cell phone across the room.
In an short article he penned recounting the experience, he expresses disgust as the way the audience was acting during the performance, particularly ones who would not stop using their cell phones despite the production specifically asking them not to. He singles out his tablemates, who were “two parties of women of a certain age, the sad sort with too much makeup and too-high heels, and insufficient attention span for following a two-hour musical.”
One of those women was sitting to his immediate right and refused to turn her phone off when he asked her to. Williamson’s date complained to management, but to Williamson’s knowledge nothing was done. When the phone user in question refused a second request, Williamson did what most of us only say we “should have” done afterward: he grabbed the phone out of her hand and threw it across the room. The woman slapped Williamson and he was shortly afterward escorted out of the theater by management.
When asked about the incident by The Gothamist, he explained that the person who escorted him out initially wouldn’t let him leave. Williamson explains, “He said the lady was talking about filing charges. So I waited around for a bit, but it seemed to be taking a while. He did try to physically keep me in, and was standing in the door blocking me, telling me I couldn’t leave. I inquired as to whether he was a police officer and I was under arrest, and since I wasn’t, I left.”
Williamson says he has little concern if charges are filled, adding, “I doubt that will happen, but if it does, that’ll be fun. If I have to spend a night in jail, I’ll spend a night in jail. I don’t want to suggest I’m Henry David Thoreau protesting the Mexican-American War, but I’ll do a day in jail if I have to.”
Reaction to Williamson’s actions seem split — some (like The Gothamist) have applauded his actions, while others think he crossed the line. What are your thoughts?