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Frances McDormand Addresses Audience During Play — Unprofessional Actress?

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you cannot stay in character when an audience member does something to distract you, then you cannot call yourself an actress. Frances McDormand stopped her play, ‘Good People,’ to directly address an audience member who answered a disruptive phone call. She said, “when you’re done, we’ll resume.” This reminds me of my high school English teacher who was so offended by a student reading a book during his lecture that he actually stopped speaking and sat at his desk in silence for the remainder of the class. Really? You are going to let one douchey guy ruin it for everyone? It’s far more damaging to my Broadway experience for an actor to break character than it is to hear a ringing cell phone. So congratulations — and go back to acting school.

  • Mongoose Maxwell

    I am not sure whether I agree with Dishmaster’s theory on this type of scenario generally, but even if she is correct, I think she may need to reconsider this particular case  – this is FRANCES MCDORMAND – she is not just any actress – but F. MCDORMAND.  That is all I have to say.  I would go to 12 shows just for one raffle ticket that she might chastise me for something.

    • I get it. Really I do. But the microphone died during a high note in Chicago and I heard the lead actress complain about it on stage. It ruined the entire play for me and I’m still angry. It’s just wrong to break character. Cell phone or not.

      • Charles Lee

        What are you talking about?  The play had already been stopped.  By the woman with the phone!  I was there.  It was literally THE climactic moment of the play.  The wife asks Frances McDormand, “You were lying, right?  About your daughter?”  There is a long dramatic pause, we’re all on the edge of our seats, and McDormand is about to answer her…when, RRRRRRRRIIIIIIIINGGGGGG!  The audience GASPED at the interruption.  The timing could not have been worse.

        McDormand took a breath, and then from the audience we hear “HELLO?!”  The audience gasped AGAIN!  Believe me, McDormand DID NOT STOP THE SHOW.  The woman with the phone did!  Twice!  McDormand did the very best she could in the circumstance.  She decided to acknowledge what every single person in that theater was already aware of – some ignorant jackass stopped the show to TAKE A PHONE CALL, and in turn ruined the CLIMAX for everyone else.  So McDormand put her arm around the other actress and said, “Let’s wait.”  and then smiled at the woman “When you’re done, we’ll resume.”  A collective roar of approval rose up from the audience.  We were on Frances’ side, because she (and we!) were so rudely disrespected.

        Frances waited a moment, did a little dance to get back into position, then turned to the wife and said, “Okay.  Ask me again.”  The wife asks.  Frances answered the question.  Gave her final line (which was a very funny line) and she made her exit, to a ROAR of cheers.  It was an amazing moment in the theater – from horror at the bad behavior of an audience member, to exhilaration at how expertly the actress handled it.

        You were not there, so you don’t know what it was like.  But I assure you, McDormand was a hero to everyone in that room.  And not the pissy unprofessional actor you’re painting her as.

        • Well then. I appreciate your recounting of the event, and might I add
          that it is an extremely funny summary (I laughed really hard)? After
          reading what you wrote, I concede I might be the asshole here, it’s
          just that I’ve been in plays where actors break character, and I much
          prefer that they power through. Perhaps this was a different
          circumstance though. I stand corrected. Sorry, Frances.