Rihanna defended by playwright pal for texting during Broadway show

Albertina Lloyd
Entertainment reporter, Yahoo UK
Rihanna attended the Broadway production of Slave Play and used her phone (Credit: Invision/AP)

Rihanna has been defended for texting during a Broadway show - by the writer of the play.

Jeremy O. Harris - writer of the critically acclaimed Slave Play about sexuality and racial trauma in America - stood up for the Diamonds singer for using her mobile phone in the audience of the Broadway show on Sunday night.

O. Harris tweeted: “Two things I learned today about the Type of theatre maker I am: When my idol texts that she’s running late. I hold the curtain for her. When my idol texts me during a play I’ve written, I respond.”

Slave Play - cross-set between a Virginia slave plantation and a present day couple therapy retreat for interracial couples - has a character named Rihanna and uses her song Work during the production.

Read more: Rihanna reveals how to properly pronounce her name

O. Harris hailed the Take A Bow singer as the “demi-goddess” of the play as he defended delaying curtain-up just for her.

Jeremy O. Harris attends 'Ain't No Mo' opening night at The Public Theater on March 27, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)

He said: “The patron saint of the play I wrote is literally a pop star, fashion icon, and Demi-goddess named Rihanna. Her words are all over it. She’s a 9th character in the play. When Dionysus is coming you hold the curtain.”

But many were outraged to learn of Rihanna’s behaviour, condemning her use of her phone during the performance as disrespectful for both the cast and the rest of the audience.

Read more: Stars who have taken action to stop audiences using phones

Some Twitter users pointed out to O. Harris 2015 Hamilton star Lin-Manuel Miranda launched an angry tirade after Madonna used her phone throughout a performance of his hit Broadway musical.

Lin-Manuel Miranda at the closing night of 'Hamilton' at Centro de Bellas Artes on January 27, 2019 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Photo by Gladys Vega/Getty Images)

O. Harris responded: “I respect Lin’s position, I just don’t share it. I’m not interested in policing anyone’s relationship to watching a play ESPECIALLY someone who isn’t a part of the regular theatre-going crowd.”

He added he was, “famously ambivalent [about] phone use in the theatre... For me there are so many more disrespectful things that I have to endure in a theatre than light from a phone so I’ve come to terms with it.”

The playwright also said: "IDK. There's no right or wrong way to watch the theatre... the form is dying so I'd rather [people] just be there than not tbqh."