After the video of a naked Jesse Williams, the theater turned the camera on the audience.
Even though there was an effort to stop people from using smartphones in theaters, a video of the actor's naked scene in the Broadway production of "Take Me Out" went viral online.
The nonprofit theater putting on a star-studded Broadway revival of "Take Me Out" put in a new infrared camera on Wednesday to help its security team catch people sneaking cameras into the theater. This was done after a video of an actor Jesse Williams in a nude scene went viral online.
The much-praised production is being put on by Second Stage Theater. Before the show started, audience members already had to put their phones in locked pouches, but the theater added the extra security measures after a video of naked actor Jesse Williams from "Grey's Anatomy" was filmed and posted on social media.
Peter Dean, the director of production for Second Stage, said that the theater's security team already had a camera view of the audience that they watched before, during, and after the play's shower scenes. However, on Wednesday morning, they added a PTZ camera, which stands for "pan, tilt, zoom," which will give them a clearer picture of each audience member at the Helen Hayes Theater, where "Take Me Out" has been running since March 10.
Dean said, "This will let us focus on a person in the audience who looks like they're doing something suspicious and figure out if they're just looking through their purse for a breath mint or if they're pulling out a phone."
He said that if security sees a phone that isn't allowed, it will tell the ushers and house manager. He also said, "We're talking about it internally to see if we should stop the show or send an usher or security person to get rid of the person." He said that the theater staff could ask people to delete footage from their phones or call the NYPD for help.
When asked what someone in the audience should do if they see a camera, Dean said, "We're New Yorkers. Say something if you see something."
Yondr pouches have been used by Second Stage to stop people from using their phones in the theater. When people come to the show, they are asked to turn off their phones and put them in the locked pouches. They keep the pouches with them during the show and then hand them back to be unlocked afterward. The system, which is used at some comedy shows, pop music concerts, and other live events, is obviously not perfect. Some people have figured out how to open the pouches, and others sneak phones in against the rules.
Dean said that in 2019, the play "Linda Vista" was put on by Second Stage at the Helen Hayes Theater. He said that there were both naked men and naked women in that play, and there were no problems with videotaping. But he said he thought that in 2003, when "Take Me Out" ran on Broadway for the first time, someone got a picture of the star Daniel Sunjata naked, even though that was before the iPhone was made.
Richard Greenberg's play "Take Me Out" is about homophobia in baseball. Robin Williams plays a star player who comes out as gay and makes some of his teammates uncomfortable. In 2003, the drama won the Tony Award for best play. This week, the current production got four nominations, including one for best revival, and three for actors, including Williams, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Michael Oberholtzer. Some of the online videos also show Oberholtzer naked.
Williams talked about being naked before the show. Last year, on "The Ellen Show," he said, "It's scary in all the right ways." In an interview with The New York Times this year, he seemed happier. He said, "I'm here to try things I've never tried before." "As far as I know, I only have one life. It'll work out."
Williams' spokeswoman said she wouldn't say anything about the video release, but both Second Stage and the union for stage actors, Actors' Equity Association, were outraged by what happened.
Kate Shindle, the president of the union, said in a statement, "We strongly condemn the making and sharing of photos and videos of our members in a nude scene." "As actors, we often agree to be vulnerable onstage so we can tell stories that are hard and challenging. This doesn't mean we agree that anyone who sneaks a recording device into the theater can share these vulnerable moments with the whole world.
Second Stage gives out Playbills with an insert that reminds people that "photos and videos are strictly prohibited." In its own statement, Second Stage said, "We are appalled that this policy has been broken" and that "taking naked pictures of anyone without their permission is very wrong and can have serious legal consequences."
The theater said that it wanted the videos to be taken down.