The Playgoer: What if Woodstock had Tweeted?

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What if Woodstock had Tweeted?

by Abigail Katz

So many of you may be aware of the recent Twitter performance of Next to Normal (referred to in Suzy Evans' post), where an adaptation of that musical was sent to followers via the social networking site. I find this absolutely fascinating in many ways.

First of all, there's the marketing element (Ken Davenport you must be having a field day.) Even though the tweets don't market the play explicitly or offer discounts to followers, the mere presence of the work on Twitter is huge. It's reaching an audience that most producers would kill for, and sales have increased considerably (of course receiving 11 Tony nominations doesn't hurt.) What's really interesting here is that followers don't get just a 60-second promo or full-page color ad in the Times, they get a piece of the story. They are invited to participate. Wouldn't that make you want to see the show live?

Which brings me to my second observation, which is how Twitter could possibly change the way we experience art. N2N has a whole new audience via this 21st century form of communication. Of course nothing replaces live performance, but now a performance piece can have a whole new dimension, a backstory that adds further depth for the audience member. One could even argue that those who only know the show through Twitter have a unique relationship to it, although I think they're cheating themselves if they don't actually go see it.

So this got me thinking about this past weekend with all the Woodstock documentaries and articles by attendees and the music of 1969 in the air for the 40th anniversary- what if the people at Woodstock had tweeted? What sense of the historic festival would we have 40 years later? Many people have said that the Woodstock film gave them a sense of being there, but what about the real-time feed of Twitter? Of course all the rumors of a disaster would have been dispelled much sooner, and some tripping Twitter feeds would have been entertaining just by itself.

So as we are fully in this new era of constant information of all kinds fed to us in all ways, we may actually enter a whole new form of multi-dimensional art that might never have crossed our minds before.  Interesting...

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