Must accept this is only an occasional blog….
Anyways, this week the Birmingham Hippodrome announced on its blog with great fanfare that they were ‘introducing’ tweet seats for a performance this week by Brazil dance group Grupo Corpo. “The great thing about this idea” according to the press department at the Hippodrome “is that spectators can share their thoughts as the show happens without having to wait until curtain down.” But what’s the point in live tweeting a show that only a handful of followers will be at and what about the people sitting around these so called ‘tweet seats’?
I blog about shows I’ve seen (well try to) and if I don’t manage that I at least tweet at the interval or after. Social media is great and should be used to promote. But to write a tweet, no matter how long it is (and it can’t be no longer than 140 characters) you need to take your focus off the action to look down, to check there’s no spelling mistakes, to check it doesn’t go against any editorial restrictions, and to check that you’ve got that all important hashtag correct. That’s 30 seconds at least. Not to mention if attaching a pic (like some tweet seaters did – hopefully not taken live) or seeing if you’ve had any replies.
At least these tweeters had a form of protection of a big bulky sticker laden box cover for their phone that would no doubt keep any distracting light from seeping out from their huge phone displays with brightness dimmed down but still bright enough to see…. I assume these important guests who are more used to sitting in the best seats to review were shunted to some back corner to avoid distracting paying audience members? I assume as I wasn’t there of course. I also assume though that my assumptions are probably incorrect. Why would you seat a bunch of supposedly ‘influential’ tweeters in a back corner?! Of course you wouldn’t. They were however in a ‘specially designated area of the auditorium’ – probably where they couldn’t sell tickets. I do know of one person who was there last night who said he couldn’t see the tweeters. Then again it’s more than likely that he may have been sitting in a different area of the auditorium. I’d be more interested to hear from those who were sitting closer.
Tweet seats aren’t a new thing. One of my most favourite current shows ‘Once’ have held a number of them. But these evenings haven’t been quite the same as what the Hippodrome have offered. These have included Q&As, tours and so on with the tweeters encouraged to tweet through these moments too – still tweeting in the show itself is surely something that should be frowned upon still even if the show is as great as Once.
Tweeting along is great if everyone is. That’s why tweeting along to Eurovision once a year or X Factor finals are so engrossing and amusing. Everyone is in on it. Everyone can praise or joke or critique what they’re all seeing. Live tweeting a show isn’t the same as reviewing. Seeing some tweets from last night they’ve treated it like live tweeting to TV which doesn’t work. Also I don’t want to know every costume and scene change unless I’m there – and if I’m about to see it I don’t want to spoil my enjoyment.
This idea will have its supporters and those who would like to participate in further projects. It’s great that theatres are willing to open up to ideas. But ultimately when ideas start to affect the audience then there’s an issue. Maybe if there was tweet performance for everyone in the auditorium so everyone was prepared but when it’s only open to a few people and anyone else will be told to turn their phone off then it’s not exactly fair. Not that I’d like to be in a tweeting audience it must be said! My hours watching a show is one of the few times where I know I don’t need to be checking my phone and seeing what people think as I should be immersed in another world – and that is how it should always be.
Another person I knew there just posted this to facebook:
I was there too. Show was amazing. I sat to the left and slightly behind the tweeters. They were distracting and they didn’t seem to watch the show. My full rant has been posted on hippodrome website ,am waiting to see if its uploaded. I managed to wait till the interval to post to face book.
So even with things in place to ‘stop’ the distractions it clearly didn’t work.