the occasional thoughts of a theater fan
A "tweet seat" compromise?
There's been much discussion recently about the idea of having "tweet seats" at designated performances of shows, much of it heated and, being a tweeter myself, I thought I'd weigh in with what I think is an alternative plan.
"Tweet seats" are grouped seats from which using your mobile device of choice to tweet about the show as it's happening is allowed, and even encouraged. Let me be clear, I am 100% against the idea. The potential for extreme intrusion on the theatrical experience of others is just too high. Never mind the impact on actors. Live theatre is a different animal than movies/television, where "live tweeting" the action has become more common; the showing of filmed entertainment does not depend on the attention and involvement of the audience. And there are no live performers who may suffer from the distraction.
The notion that we are not capable of sitting for 90-120 minutes just experiencing what's happening on the stage without commenting (other than normal audience reaction of course), is more than a bit distressing to me. You absolutely take the risk that you will not be engaged by the action; but that's what catnaps are for :). Better you quietly doze than tap and glow while others are having their moment with the show!
I'm a marketer from way back (undergrad degree + practical experience), and I am wowed by, and completely appreciate, the boon that social media is to the theatre. It can wave a magic wand over a show's promotion budget and strengthen its impact exponentially. Virtual word-of-mouth is incredibly powerful, and I encourage theatres and theatre companies to use it generously, but with some restraint as well.
Here's what I would do if I wanted to use Twitter to market my show, but wanted to avoid committing to "tweet seats":
I have attended a couple of social media events held by theatres, and it has provided a whole new dimension to my appreciation of the show, even if ultimately, the show wasn't my favorite. An incentive to try something new without a risk other than the time invested is always appealing. I can never say never about actual "tweet seats"; but at this point, I can't get behind encouraging audience members to be distracted during a performance (and possibly distracting others or the cast) and then putting their potentially distracted reactions out into the twitterverse for a wide audience to see.
I can, however, get behind marshaling the power of social media by courting savvy social media users through other perks.