Experiences in Live-Tweeting Theatre, Volume 1

Yesterday evening I had the pleasure of attending the preview of The Doctor’s Dilemma by George Bernard Shaw at @AntaeusTheater as part of Classics Fest 2011. I was there with @EttaDevine, @GabeDiani, @klchell, and @AbbyWilde to live-tweet the performance in order to start creating some buzz online about the play and the fest.

There are those out there that fear theatre becoming a tweet-fest and no one will pay full attention anymore. I want to tell those people that it probably won’t happen, but more on that later. This was my first time fully live-tweeting a play. I tried live tweeting the KPCC Theatre panel a couple weeks back, but decided to listen rather than tweet for most of it.

Live Tweeting
My phone is smart, why couldn't it just tweet for me?

It’s hard to live tweet. The first 30 minutes were me getting the hang of it, dealing with the guilty feeling of being on my phone during a performance, feeling like I was missing important plot points every time I looked down. After that it started to get more fun. There was a lively conversation going on between the few of us in the back row, glued to a tiny glowing screen as well as with our followers. It was fascinating to see what lines or moments piqued the interest my fellow tweeters as I monitored the #cf11 (Classics Fest 2011) hashtag. It added a whole other level to the performance. Event + commentary. Sort of like watching a sporting event while listening to the commentators.

BUT… as much as I enjoyed it, I don’t think that this would ever be my first choice of ways to watch a play. If the story takes place onstage, I like my attention to be fully on what’s happening onstage. During moments of the play that were extra engaging, all of us tweeters put our phones down and just watched.

So I say to those fear-mongers that like to worry and scurry around telling people that their life’s work will soon become irrelevant: chill out. I don’t plan on tweeting all through every show I see from now on. When I have the option — on a preview night and from the back row so as not to disturb anyone else — I might.

That said, go see The Doctor’s Dilemma at Antaeus. It’s a fun George Bernard Shaw piece that’s not done too often. Just like a good Seinfeld episode, it’ll make you laugh and frustrate the hell out of you. Plus lots of great Shavian witticisms for your listening pleasure.

And if you ever get the chance and permission to live tweet a play, I recommend doing it once just for the experience. Just make sure you’re in the back row so you don’t disturb other patrons.

What are your thoughts on live-tweeting?