Entertainment & Arts

Your worst stage interruptions

Have you ever been to a performance that was interrupted by a loud audience member or a mobile phone going off at the most inappropriate point in a play?

It seems 2012 was a year for stage interruptions hitting the headlines with the likes of Sir Peter Hall having to apologise to Downton Abbey actress Laura Carmichael after his loud talking in the stalls disrupted her West End debut in Chekhov's Uncle Vanya.

Actors have revealed their worst moments in the theatre and we have been asking for yours. Here is a selection of your stories which describes interruptions you have witnesses or been part of yourself.

Martin, Blackburn

Image caption Martin: 'Sheila Hancock delivered a powerful and emotional address and my phone went off'

Back in the early days of mobile phones around 1993, I went with my then wife to the Lyric Theatre at Hammersmith.

Sheila Hancock was the lead in a play called Prin playing the character of a domineering headmistress of a girl's school.

In the last scene, Ms Hancock delivered a powerful and emotional address, bringing the play to a climax and yes, my phone went off.

It rang right at the most inappropriate point, with timing that was exquisite in its awfulness.In truly professional style, however, Sheila simply fixed me with a steely glare and carried on to the end, to great applause.

I guess I may be one of the people responsible for theatres introducing the "switch off your mobile phone" rules. I can only apologise to Ms Hancock for my being such a plonker in the first place.

Rona, Falkirk, Scotland

Image caption Rona says actors performing at London's Haymarket theatre were put off by a snoring audience member

I went to see A Few Good Men at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, in the West End, London starring Rob Lowe.

The man next to us arrived late and promptly fell asleep.

The actors constantly stopped because this one man in the audience was snoring so loudly.

He snored for about 20 minutes. It got so bad the audience started to throw money at him, my husband shook him but nothing would wake him.

At the interval staff took him away he was protesting he was not drunk but jet lagged.

Frances, London

I was once doing a gig at a poetry performance, which also had musicians. One woman in the audience must have been drunk, she was jigging about and talking loudly to herself.

It was bad enough during the music but by the time I went on she was merrier than ever.

I eventually said to her, "Excuse me, this isn't supposed to be a double-act" and got a round of applause.

She was quiet for a while, but then came up on to the small stage with me. I was fending her off with one hand and stepping sideways while trying to keep the mike out of her reach while I finished the last poem. I managed it, but only just.

Rob Davis in Telford, Shropshire

Whilst running the lighting board for a performance on stage, I was horrified to see that a panel of coloured gel had slipped from its frame.

Coming up against the lantern's very hot bulb the gel had caught fire.

Rapidly pulling the circuit down, I dashed backstage with an extinguisher. I was about to dive out of the wings armed with a CO2 bottle but didn't have to.

Seeing the fire on stage the actor (playing the Butler) calmly picked up a flower pot, threw the flowers out and poured the water on the flames extinguishing the fire.

The actress playing 'My Lady' turned not a hair, and merely commented "Thank you, Peters." The audience clapped fit to bust, and the play continued normally.

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