In the same week that the Broadway show Take Me Out garnered four Tony Award nominations, a leak of Jesse Williams' entire naked performance, captured on a theatergoer's smartphone during a playtime, drove the theatre world into a frenzy.
The performance's producer, Second Stage Theatre, has installed cameras with an infrared system capable of detecting cell phone activity and turning and zooming toward spectators to identify them in response to the video's viral success.
Other strict security measures, such as requiring audience members to place their switched-off phones in cases with deactivated magnetic padlocks upon leave, had previously been put in place by the theatre. The trick has been utilized in comic shows and concerts for a while, while some fans manage to open the cases. The team behind Take Me Out is debating the procedure to follow if the cameras identify someone using their phone, according to production director Peter Dean, who spoke with The New York Times. He emphasized that the offending viewer would be requested to erase the information. "We're having discussions internally whether we would stop the show or send an usher or security when we see someone to remove them," he said. Dean adds that if required, New York police will also be contacted.
In the play Take Me Out from 2002, a baseball player decides to come out as homosexual. Most of the action occurs in his team's locker room over an entire season, illustrating the tensions, homophobia, and support he encounters there from a diverse group of teammates. The Broadway production starring Williams is not the first to include the actor; the first was in 2003 and featured actor Daniel Sunjata, whose naked image was similarly released despite the far inferior quality of mobile phones' cameras.
The tape has been denounced by the production company and the Actors' Equity Association, the union representing theatre artists. "As performers, we frequently consent to being open and vulnerable onstage to communicate complex and demanding stories. President Kate Shindle said that this does not imply that we agree to have those private moments broadcast by everyone who feels the need to enter the theatre with recording equipment. Without their permission, taking naked images of anyone is very distasteful and may result in serious legal repercussions, according to Second Stage Theatre.
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