The lights dim, the orchestra tunes one final time, and the audience begins to liveblog. Perhaps you’ve heard about operas creating apps or navigating an art museum with your iPhone, but have you considered tweeting during your next trip to the theatre or musical hall? While most venues view cell phones as a rude violation of decorum, others have embraced this modern culture of mobile communication in an effort to enhance the artistic experience. Enter the “Tweet Seat”, as defined by the New York Times section Schott’s Vocab
"Theater seats reserved for Twitter users"
The Milwaukee Chamber Theatre is a notable instance of this phenomenon. During an April production of “The Lion in Winter”, Tweet Seat tickets were sold. Patrons who purchased Tweet Seats stat in the upper-level balcony and were encouraged to tweet during the production. Staff provided a handout with the Milwaukee Chamber’s Twitter handle as well as a special hashtag for their tweets about the show. It should be noted that at the bottom of these instructions was the bolded phrase: “Please silence your phone”. (It should be further noted that no cell phones rang or interrupted the performance.)
Tweet Seats may sound like a fun, edgy experiment to some, but other arts organizations are embracing mobile technologies as a part of their internal culture.
Take a look at the future Tateuchi Center of Bellevue, Washington. When given a choice of blocking cellular service in the building, John Haynes, the CEO of the Tateuchi Center, chose to increase cell phone capabilities in the facility.
Audience members will be encouraged to tweet, liveblog, and interact electronically during performances. The Tateuchi Center is self-described as,
" ...one of the first, great performing arts centers of the 21st century, distinguished by its having been planned not just for a new era, but a new generation..."
What do you think? Is this the natural progression of performing arts? Or does allowing audiences to have their phone out detract from the performance? Is it unfair to the performers?
Would you tweet during a performance?