“No cameras allowed.”
“No cell phones allowed during the show.”
Those admonitions used to be pretty standard fare during any movie or Broadway production. Not so anymore. In fact, in many U.S. cities, Broadway patrons are being encouraged to use their cell phones and tablets during performances.
In early 2011, the Fox Theater in Atlanta gave this new found acceptance of tweeting during Broadway shows a go. Burn the Floor, a ballroom dance inspired musical, ran a contest
to provide free tickets to 10 of their Twitter followers. The winners earned complimentary beverages, got to bypass lines, and the coup de grace: they were seated in a special TweetSeat section of the theater. This section was all about the technology. During the show they were encouraged to tweet about their experiences or any other updates. The contest was announced via Twitter, as were the winners. After their name was tweeted, they had 24 hours to respond via Twitter to claim their TweetSeats.
Burn the Floor is not alone in their efforts to promote TweetSeats. The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has designated 25 of their seats as TweetSeats. Audience members track a hashtag on their tablets and follow along as updates are posted about the show, feeling free to enter and exit the conversation as they choose.
TweetSeaters can take up occupancy in North Carolina, with the Carolina Ballet and during the Shakespeare Festival in St. Louis. In 2012, the Palm Beach Opera will begin their initial offering of TweetSeats during their upcoming production of Madame Butterfly.
Love it, or hate it, the emergence of TweetSeats does indicate the pervasive nature of Twitter and social media technology alone. It also points a bigger finger at the reframing of what is and is not socially acceptable while looking through a digital lens. Social media, regardless of the level of diffusion adopted by educators, is becoming an increasing stalwart component of how we interact and communicate.