Every night in theatres around Australia, audience members are tweeting: during interval, after the show and sometimes, mostly surreptitiously, during the show itself. Twitter is the new word of mouth and all the major arts companies are taking it seriously indeed.More like the makers of art and the marketers of art are getting closer--uncomfortably close.
"You tweet because you're excited to be seeing something live after hearing so much about it," says Suarez, who sought permission from the theatre to tweet during King Lear. She sat in the back row to avoid disturbing other patrons. "It's about sharing your emotions and your experience of the show. You might have a favourite scene or a line that you love and you want to share it instantly. I thought King Lear might be dry but it was really interesting and I wanted my friends to go and see it and be entertained."
For the performing arts, Twitter is shaping up to be revolutionary, as some of the world's oldest media forms are compelled to engage with the newest. Both are about groups coming together to share an experience. But now, through Twitter, the audience and the makers of art are getting closer and closer.
Okay, okay. I guess the urge to share comments with friends during a performance is natural. We all whisper such things occasionally at the theatre--and in the cinema some of us don't even bother hiding it. (You know who you are.) And we all need the occasional experience of watching tv and movies with friends in private to share such bon mots.
But at least in these circumstances we can keep our eyes on the screen/stage. Because something, you know, important might be happening up there that you need to see, instead of staring at your thumbs half the time.
(I suppose that would be like me blogging a show while watching it--something that, yes, would be fun once in a while.)
So whatever the benefits and whatever the value in validating the communal experience...beware those who believe that anything with the word Twitter next to it. If our last resort is simply to give the audience something else to do...we're in trouble.
Speaking of which, you can read this and other Playgoer posts on Twitter!