Should theatres allow live-tweeting of their shows?
So, unless you have hidden under a rock or have never followed me on Twitter or read my blog, you probably know that I attend hundreds of theatre and dance shows and write reviews. I grew up with artists – my parents were a concert piano player and a soprano coloratura. My brothers play piano at the concert-level (one of my brothers has a degree in Music on top of his PhD in Mechanical Engineering). I am a former competitive dancer and theatre actor. So, I love the arts and I do my darnedest to promote the arts in perhaps the toughest destination of them all, Vancouver, where people drop $450 dollars a ticket for Canucks games yet complain about $35 tickets to dance/theatre shows. Yes, I went there. So sue me.
People have asked me whether I think live-tweeting a theatre show is a good idea or not. Lots of people have their own opinions, and I have had good and bad experiences with Vancouver crowds, so I’m just going to narrate two or three of my stories. The first one comes from my recent experience at the Vancouver Opera for West Side Story. We (well, JT) paid for our tickets and we were assigned what I would consider pretty bad seats. Granted, I’m always spoiled because most arts companies invite me to their shows on media tickets and thus I’m assigned great seats. So, experiencing this at the Vancouver Opera was kind of a let down (but that is a whole other story). But my point here was that, my seats were in the balcony and thus I could have easily live-tweeted without bothering anyone (the lights right beside me were intense enough that they would have overpowered my iPhone).
The second story I have comes from a recent show, The Nutcracker (at the Alberta Ballet). Because I have to write my notes about the show, I often seat on isle seats so I can bend over and catch some light and scribble a few thoughts. I have photographic memory, yes, but if I am supposed to write a good, solid review that touches on the technical aspects of the show, I need to write down my notes. I am always hopeful to move down, bend over and write my notes in a way that is not disruptive. But the couple sitting behind me (in their late 60s probably) complained to me that I was moving too much. I tried to explain why I did it, in hopes they’d understand that I wasn’t purposefully trying to disrupt the show. They didn’t, so I did them a favour and moved away. This is a first in 5 years I’ve reviewed arts shows, and I had NEVER had anyone complain about me moving in my seat to take notes about a show, EVER. This experience left a really bad taste in my mouth.
So, while I recognize that Vancouver crowds are extremely heterogeneous, generally I think most people try to NOT disrupt the show. Certainly, I do my very best not to! And I recognize that live-tweeting MIGHT make the actors/performers/attendees feel like we are indeed disrupting. Some theatres are now experimenting with live-tweeting (just Google the proper search terms and you will find oodles of posts about the topic), and I always post a pre-show, intermission and post-show tweet. I don’t do this because I *HAVE* to. I do this to promote the show. I have a large audience and I do whatever I can to push theatre shows and motivate people who follow me to attend them. I *COULD* not tweet from the theatre, but I choose to do so to ensure that people who only follow me and don’t really read my blog can be aware of the caliber of the show I am witnessing.
Back to the discussion – so, should theatres allow live-tweeting of their shows? Well, I am of several minds on this one. First, if the live-tweeting is limited to in-between-scenes, sure why not. If it’s in assigned seats that don’t reflect and that the performers can’t be disrupted, of course. But if in any way it disrupts the show, then it’s an absolute no-no.
Since I’m all about the discussion, have at it on the comments section. Should we or should we not have assigned-seats for live-tweeting in arts shows? I can assure you it happens at live music concerts. I live-tweeted the Chromeo concert, and also I did the same with Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD).
- Us and Them (Headlines Theatre) [last 4 shows!]
- Reminiscing about TV shows ABOUT Vancouver
- Liveblogging vs. live-tweeting in social media events
- Cover It Live vs Scribble Live (Round 2 Comparison)
- Net Tuesday Live blog/live tweeting (using ScribbleLive)