comScore Don't Film Benedict Cumberbatch's Hamlet With Your Smartphone | The Mary Sue

Don’t Film Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet With Your Smartphone

Theatre Etiquette 101

Benedict Cumberbatch called out his own overzealous fans last Saturday night following his performance as the lead in Hamlet at the Barbican Theatre in London. Due to technical difficulties, the performance had a few stops and starts. In a short speech at the stage door after the performance, Cumberbatch pointed out that overcoming these small difficulties had become even more difficult due to his fans’ use of smartphones to record the show:

I can see red lights in the auditorium. It may not be any of you here that did that, but it’s blindingly obvious. We had to restart again tonight at ‘To be or not to be’, which is not the easiest place to pick up a play full stop, but this made it harder. It’s very, very obvious. It’s mortifying, and there’s nothing less enjoyable as an actor on stage, experiencing that.

Cumberbatch went on to say that the theatre staff would be evicting audience members who use recording devices in the future. He admitted, “I don’t want that to happen – that’s a horrible way to police what’s a wonderful thing.” However, theatre attendees need to be mindful that their smartphone recordings prevent Cumberbatch and his colleagues from delivering their best work.

I can’t give you what I want to give you, which is a live performance that you’ll remember, hopefully in your minds and brains whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, rather than on your phones. So it’s not me blaming you, this is me asking you to ripple it out there, in the beautiful way that you do with your funny electronic things.

Cumberbatch’s full speech can be seen above, thanks to the work of a smartphone user who hopefully did not record the play.

(via Buzzfeed)

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Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (, and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (