I love the theatre. I love Twitter. Put the two together and what could be better?
Well, toothpaste and orange juice spring to mind.
There is a worrying trend at the moment of theatres thinking it is a good idea to allow ‘tweet seats’ in their auditoriums. I’ve seen places as prestigious as the Royal Opera House and the Birmingham Hippodrome put forward this idea and I can only think it is a wrong move.
First of all, using your mobile phone during a performance is an insult to the performers. You cannot possibly be giving their work your full attention and therefore you cannot possibly be in a position to comment, making anything you might be bursting to say in a tweet invalid.
Second, you will be a nuisance to other audience members. Never mind proposed ‘light-reducing seats’, you will be seen. Also pity the poor ushers trying to police mobile phone use in the rest of the audience. Theatres have worked hard to minimise disruption from mobile phones – to allow usage in any capacity is backwards.
Thirdly, the tweeters themselves are missing out. We’ve all tweeted along with television shows – in some cases Twitter enhances certain types of programmes and televised events – but live theatre is different. If you’re tweeting, you’re not in the moment. You’re not giving the show the chance to absorb you and transport you. And therefore – I repeat – anything you tweet cannot be worth reading.
Twitter is great fun but it’s also a stealer of time and attention. You might think of a perfect, pithy comment that just can’t wait until the interval but then you will get replies. You will be distracted by other tweets that appear on your timeline: pictures of kittens in pith helmets, for example.
I am against tweeting during live theatre – in case you haven’t worked that out by now.
Switch the phones off and BE PRESENT. Don’t deny yourself the uniqueness of live experience.