An idea that we at 2x4BASH have been toying with is incorporating “media-friendly” shows, where people can sign up to sit in designated seats in the house (as to not disturb our ‘traditional’ audience members) and use their Smartphones during the show to comment on or react as they watch. SF Playhouse (http://www.sfplayhouse.org/) used this concept during their production of Wirehead with Twitter and they re-tweeted select posts from audience members. I think this concept is pretty cool, but as I see it, there are so many factors that go into making this even slightly successful, especially introducing it as a completely new idea to our theatre community here on the Central Coast.
Cell phones in the theatre are typically considered blasphemous, but as time evolves, I feel we as theatre artists need to, as well. Most of us always have our phones on our person at all times (I know I do) and yes, I do think it’s incredibly rude to talk on your phone at the theatre, or not silence it. But if we were to create an environment where it was okay to use your little, technological limb for good rather than evil, I think both audience member and the theatre could benefit.
We have to look at the constants versus the variables in this situation. The constants: where the seats are located, making sure all participants interested sign up and have a verified Facebook/Twitter account (so we can check to see if they actually posted something). The variable: Internet connection, and the biggest variable of them all… human beings. We can only tell them what they are supposed to do, but will 100% of the participants do exactly that? Doubtful. The idea is to get our audience engaged and talking about what’s going on, on a first impression basis. Most of the time when we see a show, if something strikes us in a strong way, we have the rest of the show to think about or rationalize it. But if you had the opportunity to say exactly what they thought or felt about that moment in time (as we often do with Facebook and Twitter anyway), wouldn’t you want to?
Ideally, if we can rally up enough interest in our production, people will want to talk about it, right then and there without having to wait. I believe this is our ultimate goal: interest, reaction, dialog. We want to share our dialog with you.
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Some interesting links, regarding this topic: