Dear theatres of the world:
Before a play begins, always, always, always have an usher remind audience members to turn off their cellphones, or play a recording reminding them to do so. If you do not do this, YOU ARE TO BLAME when a cellphone rings during the performance.
Here's how it is: I am an extremely conscientious theatregoer. I always remember to turn off my cell phone... AND YET, I am willing to bet that even though I am a superconscientious theatregoer, I probably forget to turn off my cellphone once out of every 250 times I go to see theatre if I am not reminded by an usher.
Now, for the sake of argument, let's say the chances of me getting a phone call during the 1.5 to 3 hours during which a play takes place are about 1 in 3.
Even with this conservative estimate, that would mean that my phone will ring during a play about once out of every 750 times I go to the theatre if there is no reminder to turn off cellphones at the start.
Now, let's say that everyone who goes to the theatre is as conscientious as me and as unpopular as me. If everyone in the audience of 750 has a cell phone and there is no announcement, it is virtually guaranteed that a cell phone will go off once during a show...
So, just do it! There's no reason to be embarrassed! Flight attendants still tell airplane passengers not to smoke during the flight... and there hasn't been smoking on a flight for more than a decade!
It is getting to the point where a cell phone ringing during a show is the rule not the exception. If an announcement is made, the offending cellular telephone owner is entirely to blame. But if an announcement is not made, I blame you theatre (cough, Buddies in Bad Times, cough) for not understanding probability. I blame you.
On the Fence