Is tweeting the new tool in theatre?

We were the first in Monterey County to do it and we called them Saturday Night BASHers. Inspired by SFPlayhouse, who began their tweet seats in 2010, more information about the creation of Pluggers is available in this article.  

So what’s the big idea behind tweeting during a live performance? Is it a viable resource or is it “just gross”, as Curt Hopkins states in his article Tweet seats deserve to be booed out of theater (Arts Technica).

Check out this KQED/NPR radio piece, Theatres Torn on Tweets by Cy Musiker, featuring former 2x4BASH stage manager/designer, Casey Rebecca Nunes.

What do you think?

Saturday Night BASHers

We announce Saturday Night BASHers!

Our first performance is less than a month away and Saturday nights are devoted to social media.

Saturday Night BASHers gives you the opportunity to Tweet or chat via Facebook during the performance.

Some rules & regulations that we must tend to:

1) Seats are limited, it’s based on first come, first serve. BASHers must arrive 30 minutes prior to doors open (ex: show starts at 7:30pm, doors open at 7:00pm, BASHers join 6:30pm) This gives us the chance to get to know you and to give an update on how the evening will play out.

2) You are completely uncensored. We want your feedback, in the heat of the moment, raw and ready to be exposed. Strike up a convo with the person sitting next to you, what you are watching, hearing, thinking and discuss it.

3) You have the choice: Twitter or Facebook. Pick one, and upon your arrival, sign up and let us know which you prefer. If you choose Twitter, keep your account open (unlock those Tweets). We will be retweeting what you say. There will be a special hashtag for the evening.

If you like Facebook, keep your gadget open to the 2x4BASH page, there will be a designated Discussion Page just for you!

4) Keep that phone charged! Battery life lasting at least 2 hours is ideal (Casey & Melissa figured that out during their tweet session at SF Playhouse).

5) Did we mention you get in for free? Because it is first come, first serve, you will be our guests. Reserved seating, house center, back row.

Interested and wanna be a BASHer? Info and performance dates are posted on our BASHers page. 

Thank you to SF Playhouse for having us as guests, here’s a bit about our experience.

On Thursday, May 19th, Casey Rebecca Nunes and Melissa Woodrow had the privilage of experiencing their first performance at SF Playhouse and the opportunity to tweet from their seats during Reborning as they call “SF Playhouse Pluggers”.

Check out these videos to get a quick background. Reborning on YouTube

Reborning is based on a real practice and craft: read up on it!

Now let’s hear what Casey and Melissa have to tweet about.

CASEY: I first heard about “tweeting from your seat” through SF Playhouse before I was even presented with the idea of working on the BASH. I thought it was a cool idea, but not sure how it worked in practice. So, when Jon Selover brought the concept up in one of our early meetings and how he wanted us to incorporate it into our program, I immediately fell in love with the idea and was super excited to try it in our area.

As we were gearing up to announce 2X4BASH and our season, I wrote an entry, referencing SF Playhouse, and I plugged them on Twitter. Dan Meaghar, Marketing Director of SF Playhouse, DM’ed (direct messaged) us, asking if we were interested in coming up to try it out! Of course, Melissa and I jumped at the chance. When we wrote back to confirm, all the Pluggers spots had been filled up! We still wanted to speak with Dan and see the space (who wouldn’t want the opportunity to walk through an Equity house when it’s not in performance? Anyone? Just me? Ah, well, theatre nerds forever…) Literally, as we drove in the City, Dan called me, saying there were two last minute cancellations and that he could fit us in. “UM, YES PLEASE?!” is all I could say. And the theatre nerdery lives on…

MELISSA: After arriving at SF Playhouse, Dan welcomed us on stage and began to breakdown how they run pluggers. SF Playhouse has been actively using Twitter for over a year and have several regular Tweeters. All pluggers are seated in the back row to not distract the audience. Now I’ll admit, I wasn’t much into Twitter, I really wasn’t actively tweeting about anything until this performance. Lights dimmed, show started and fingers began to type. Tweets ranged from comments on light design, creepy baby videos on screen and “giant penis just came on stage”. I wasn’t sure how Tweeting during a performance would feel, normally it’s taboo to even think of using your phone. Once that fear broke, I realized the tweeting during the show enhanced the experience.

Not only was the content and writing unique but the conversations during the show made me question my instant emotions and reactions. I’m usually able to take an hour or so after a performance to think about it’s design and concept but discussing a show as it played out in front of you was refreshing.

Check out what SF Playhouse is doing now!

We’re following the Tweeter, the Tweeter, the Tweeter…

“Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

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.

To get started, follow us on Twitter! (2x4BASH) We promise to follow you back!

Some interesting links, regarding this topic:

http://www.tcg.org/pdfs/publications/centerpiece/Nov09_Twitter_Centerpiece.pdf

http://www.ayoungertheatre.com/theatre-marketing-twitter/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2009/mar/13/tweet-twitter-theatre