The Thing About Bootlegs…

There’s always been a debate about bootlegs. Some actors rage against them while others shrug the issue off, but the issue continues to develop as more and more actors speak up. Though many are against them (for example, Mike Faist from Dear Evan Hansen), others enjoy them (Ben Platt, also from Dear Evan Hansen, apparently LOVES a good Wicked bootleg).

For those who don’t know too much about the issue, here’s some quick info. Bootlegs are illegally recorded shows posted online for the public to view, often for free. Many in the theatre world are against this in the name of legal rights and cash earnings. Those for bootlegs tend to enjoy the free entertainment and easy access. They don’t feel that anyone is getting hurt in the process.

Though I fully understand the reasons for being against them, I have to admit that I don’t mind bootlegs. When a young theatre nerd, who cannot or knows that they will never end up in New York City to see one of these amazing shows, finds out that there is the option of seeing even a snippet of a show, it’s hard to steer them away. I think that this is understandable. From this side of it, it seems cruel to keep these bootlegs from those who love theatre, but don’t have the means to see the shows in person.

The biggest issue that I have with bootlegs is the actual recording of them. Having your phone or camera on during a show is extremely rude. Having your phone/camera out during a show to illegally record it instead of living the experience and appreciating the actors’ hard work? That’s horrible. It isn’t as though the actors don’t notice either. A phone is going to light up your face in the dark theatre. They can see you. Many actors have looked directly into cameras and have either stopped the show (*cough* Patti Lupone *cough*) to call someone out or have stumbled over their lines, distracted by the camera. This in turn changes the entire experience for the rest of the audience and ends up making many angry.

It’s hard to take a firm side on this issue. Many avoid it altogether because it causes so much of an uproar. What I find is most important, however, is to understand both sides. The recording of bootlegs is horribly inconsiderate of the actors and everyone who works to pull off a show. Watching one of these shows could change the life of a young theatre kid.

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