Melbourne’s Malthouse Theatre is set to be Australia’s first major theatre company where patrons will be encouraged to leave their mobile phones on.
The Malthouse will trial live tweeting so theatre-goers can follow the hashtag and share an online conversation about a performance.
“We’re a theatre that is very keen to invite and make young audiences in particular welcome in our theatre spaces and it’s great that theatre is evolving and finding new ways to provide feedback and to interact with the performance.”
“We think that social media is the way that most people do that and we’re willing to explore that,” he said.
Mr Wright said social media is part of everyday life and people are happy using their phones in many contexts, so why not in the performing arts.
“I think it’s safe to say that if most people are comfortable tweeting and sending emails whilst they’re also having meetings with people, then we can get to a point where we can also do that with theatre.”
Of course there will always be a risk of spoilers, but Mr Wright said they are willing to take the risk and give their audiences a voice.
“They’re providing immediate feedback to the moments that are inspiring them or that they don’t like in the theatrical process,” he said.
Branding itself as an engine for change, the Malthouse is taking small steps in making the right decision about what type of show would suit tweet seats.
The Malthouse will announce their next move in the coming months.
Keeping tradition alive
The more traditional Melbourne Theatre Company does not tolerate the use of mobile phones during performances.
Suspending your connection with the real world is what theatre is about for the company.
“You’re meant to embrace the story and the fantasy of what’s being presented on stage and then at the end of the performance, you go out, you re-engage with the real world and you take that experience with you,” Theatre Manager Mark Wheeler said.
Mr Wheeler said some audiences will welcome the idea of live tweeting, but thinks a large number of people will oppose it initially.“I would like to think that we can encourage people to come to the theatre without people feeling alienated by the fact that they may not be able to use social media.”
“What we should be doing is encouraging people to experience that aspect where you don’t need social media to actually share it with your friends.”
- Carlton’s independent theatre La Mama is providing tweet seats during their show Rat
- Palm Beach Opera’s Storified tweets from a final dress rehearsal of Madama Butterfly from December, 2011
- The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has regular tweet seats
- The Los Angeles Times said the first live theatre tweeting was The Lyric Opera of Kansas City in their final performance of HMS Pinafore in 2009
Should theatre goers be allowed to use their mobile phones during select performances? What annoys you when seeing a show? Have you sat in a tweet seat? Leave a comment.
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