Over on his daily theatre blog today, Mark Shenton looks at the growing, insatiable need of audiences to share their theatregoing experience during the show itself.
And he’s right — while social media has done much to improve the marketing of shows both before and after performances, enabling savvy theatre PRs to work in conjunction with naturally occurring word-of-mouth, some people’s constant insistence on sharing during a performance is a distraction not only to audiences, cast members, but also to the tweeters themselves. To them I say, for goodness’ sake — and I say this as a long-standing and voluminous Tweeter myself — learn to put your phone down and enjoy the craft in front of you.
(A quick side note — one combination of theatre and Twitter that Mark’s post doesn’t mention is A Younger Theatre’s project, announced yesterday, that will give selected tweeters the chance to give live feedback from backstage at the Royal Opera House as the Royal Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet is broadcast live to over 700 cinemas. That’s using Twitter less for gossip, more for realtime journalism, and is to be commended.)
But back to audiences, and while tweeting live is disruptive to theatre, television’s another matter. If you tweet during a broadcast from the comfort of your own front room, the only people you’re going to disturb are possibly (with the exception of family and friends who may be in the room with you) are other people on Twitter.
And there’s every sign that, in the age of iPlayer and the commercial channels’ equivalents, realtime social media is helping to bolster audiences watching a show as it is broadcast, so that they can converse with the rest of the audience.