The Price of a Peek
April 14, 2022: Perhaps the most interesting part of the Broadway revival of Richard Greenberg’s Take Me Out is what happens before the play even starts. Everyone in the audience is asked not only to turn off their phones put to put them in a locked bag. On a day when ten people were shot in a New York City subway train, it was a relief to see everyone complied. In fact, only people unfamiliar with the show even questioned why.
The reason has nothing to do with copywright law. We all know stage sets and costumes are copywrighted material. No one has the right to take any pictures at all. But in no other show do producers find the need to enforce the copywright with such draconian measures.
The curious were told Take Me Out has a considerable amount of male frontal nudity. And someone, or everyone, has decided there should not be the slightest possibility of anyone in the audience taking a picture of a nude actor.
Certainly, this has little to do with prudery or privacy. After all, the actors stand naked in front of hundreds of people every night. One could say the nudity is only appropriate in the context of the play. But so is everything else that happens on the stage. What makes nudity special?
Do the actors really care that someone might be looking at their naked bodies on their cell phones after the show? Or are they troubled that their unclothed selves will appear on the Internet? Is this especially embarrassing? Is their mother back home in Podunk going to be shocked?
It seems to me what the producers of Take Me Out are telling us is more about what we are buying and what we are not buying. In other words, our ticket gives us the right to watch naked people onstage but not to keep that image for later use or enjoyment.
Producers take note! The right to take photos (not only of nudes) may open many windows of opportunity for increasing prices and boosting ticket sales. For instance, there could be several levels of pricing. One for just watching the show. One for watching the show and taking pictures at specified times. One for unlimited photo ops. Far better a touch of honesty than all this false modesty.