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Rapid response code not so rapidly cheered in theatre

Joyce Walter reflects on a trip to the theatre.
Reflective Moments by Joyce Walter

Technology has taken over the world of theatre in Moose Jaw — and perhaps elsewhere in locations to which we have not travelled.

As we entered the theatre to attend the Notoriously Moose Jaw production by Moose Jaw Community Players, the usher kindly offered to direct us to our seats and then offered us a card, the size of a business card. “Have you got one of these?” she asked.

We replied in the negative and stuck our hands out to receive the information on this card. “It will make a good bookmark,” she said mysteriously.

In our seats, we examined the card on which appeared a mini-version of the production’s poster. The other half of the card carried one of those QR (quick response) codes that are meant to be scanned by a mobile device, such as a cellphone. To help those of us still confused, an arrow pointed to the symbol and the word ”program” appeared to the right of the arrow.

The smaller print advised “this is your program! Scan it and read all about the notoriously wonderful people who brought you this show!”

That’s when we figured out why everyone around us had their phones out and were doing something mysterious between the card and their phones. Housemate took a photo of the code and absolutely nothing happened.

“Can’t we get a paper program,” I wondered out loud. There were none anywhere in evidence as we looked around in search of a seat director who might have a supply somewhere.

We did catch the eye of an usher positioned to scan tickets who came to our seats and showed Housemate how we could gain access to the information contained behind the symbol. After all, we wanted to know the names of the performers who caught our eye and ear for being especially talented and involved in the characters of their representation.

Our helper moved back to her station and Housemate ventured to read the program. “Shoot, it disappeared,” he lamented. But we didn’t want to appear too baffled by this whole experience and anyway, our assistant was busy helping many others who had that glazed look of desperation about them.

Finally, we caught her eye again and she obligingly helped us once more and showed him/us how not to lose the program into the air at the cultural centre. While we waited for the program to return to his phone, we realized this would likely not be the only theatre production that would be going paperless in the future.

Housemate had a triumphant lilt to his voice and a smile on his face when he scrolled through the photos and information on his screen. He offered to share with me but I had to decline: my reading glasses were at home and anyway it was entertaining to me to watch and listen to others in the audience as they navigated “modern” methods of theatrical communication.

I felt a bit sorry for audience members who either don’t own a mobile device or had left it at home. They were in the dark as to the identity of the couple who played Mr. and Mrs. Wells of Tuxford regarding the visit to their Tuxford farm by Queen Elizabeth. And who were the ladies of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union who paraded on Main Street against the demon rum?

In the early morning after the play, I had some of those same questions but where was the program? On Housemate’s cellphone. Where was the phone: in Housemate’s possession as he slept soundly, possibly having dreams about his new ability to access entertainment programs without having sacrificed even one tree branch.

After some more thought, I decided that I didn’t need to know the names to express my deepest appreciation for the talents of everyone involved in the play. It was a wonderful evening of joy, sadness, amusement, laughter and definitely pride in our Moose Jaw.  And now I also have a bookmark to mark the occasion! Bravo to one and all.

Joyce Walter can be reached at

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication. 

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