My gut tells me that if you were to kneel down by the curtain, find this woman's battered phone and unlock it, the screen would open up to a Google drop-down list of recently searched terms like "tolstoy," "war and peace" and "charles ramsey autotune," but probably not "proper theater etiquette."
SUMMARY: A conservative writer for the National Review named Kevin Williamson is being heralded/scolded for this off-Broadway theater vigilantism when he threw the phone of a neighboring audience member after she refused to get off of it and was being annoying, rude and downright entitled.
As my lede suggests, my guess is that she was probably googling about the play, Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, which - also as my lede suggests - is loosely based on Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace." This bit of information was probably listed in the playbill and spurned her curiosity.
I'm not above stopping and starting a movie on Netflix to Google something I didn't understand.
In that case, the only person I'm really annoying is my boyfriend, who is usually sitting next to me, sighing gruffly, when I need to educate myself. By rule of venue, this lady was doing herself, the audience and the actors a discourtesy by being on her phone during the show. Literally, it's one of the rules.
First of all, did you see this theater? This wasn't a theater with rows of seats - this was far more intimate and unusual. In fact, the venue itself was created JUST FOR Natasha. The layout of the theater is a little more swirly and random:
It's the type of atmosphere where anyone prone to distraction could be tempted to reach for their phone - just unusual enough. However, from the other pictures of the venue taken by Chad Batka, you can see that the actors interact with the audience - closely enough for them to see you being an idiot.
Anyway, from Kevin Williamson's and his date's perspective, everyone was being respectful of the show except for two tables - especially that one chic with the phone.
Williamson's decision to throw her phone after repeatedly asking her to stop being disruptive and even alerting theater management might have been more bogus if her response was anything like "Sorry, I need to take care of an emergency - in fact, let me step out to take care of this. Again, I apologize for being inconsiderate."
Instead, her it's-a-free-country attitude earned her a phone-slinging.
There's a solution to this kind of problem - do the right thing, whatever it is. In some cases it's being considerate to the rest of the audience, the actors and the art by following the rules and putting your phone away. Or getting up in the middle of the second act to yet again inform the powers that be of an unresolved situation. IT'S OKAY DUDE, TATTLE ON THAT BROAD AGAIN.
Under no circumstances is this the right thing to do to:
to be an entitled jerk in the middle of a performance and ignore requests from your neighbors to be less of a jerk
to physically touch a jerk or their property to get them to stop doing something that is non-violent, albeit stupid.
Basic first grade stuff.
Shame on me for expecting a "woman of a certain age" in the cultural axis of the upper East coast to follow the rules and act with dignity while taking in some art. Anyway, Kevin got thrown out and that woman's phone is probably damaged. Both got what they deserved for doing the wrong thing.
Were I there, I would have clapped mildly mid-laugh for Kevin in a state of shock before my smile were to fade and I came to the realization that it most likely wasn't the best way to deal with her ignorance. Hindsight is 20/20. Or 4G. iPhone 5? Whatever.