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maryann johanson | watching movies at home

question of the day: Would you patronize a cinema that offered “tweet seats”?

Apparently this has been going on for several years now, but I’ve only just heard about it. From USA Today (via All Twitter):

A growing number of theaters and performing groups across the country are setting aside “tweet seats,” in-house seats for patrons to live-tweet during performances, including the Carolina Ballet in Raleigh, N.C., and the Dayton Opera in Dayton, Ohio.

Rick Dildine, the executive director for Shakespeare Festival St. Louis — an outdoor theater festival that began using tweet seats two years ago — said tweet seats have “become a national trend.”

“Coast to coast, theaters are experimenting with how to use ‘tweet seats’ effectively,” he said. “The arts are evolving right now, they are participatory. … Social media is a tool we rely on, and we have been unafraid to experiment with it.”

Goodspeed Opera House’s public relations manager Elisa Hale moderated the conversation from backstage during Hello! My Baby.

“This is sort of an enhancement … because there is a way to interact during the show,” she said.

Hale says there were “no negative comments” from patrons about the tweet seats, located in the back row of the theater to avoid disrupting other patrons.

And it’s spreading from the Midwest to the center of theater in the U.S.:

Spokespeople for public relations firms Jeffrey Richards Associates, Hartman Group and O&M said the Broadway productions they represent have not used tweet seats. But Jennifer Tepper, the director of promotions for Godspell on Broadway, says the production intends to use them.

“While we haven’t done tweet seats, they are certainly in our plan for the future at Godspell,” she said.

Can there be any doubt that “tweet seats” are coming to cinemas soon? People are already texting during movies anyway… so this could be a case of “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”

But why would anyone want to diminish their experience of a performance — or a movie — by getting involved in a conversation, even a virtual one, in the middle of it? That seems to be the benefit of tweet seats for some, not a drawback:

“Tweeting the CSO’s performance was like attending a members-only social event in the midst of a traditionally formal setting,” said tweeter Jennifer Nissenbaum, 35, of Dayton. “I could communicate openly about my reactions to the music, musicians and conductor — without speaking a word. Plus, I had the opportunity to engage others, and get their reactions to the performance.”

If you’re busy digesting other people’s reactions, how do you process your own? You’re no longer digesting the performance, after all.

Then again, I’m always astonished at people who can get up in the middle of the movie to use the bathroom or buy more junk food. I don’t like my experience of a film (or a play) interrupted. Why bother going to the theater or the cinema if you’re not going to see in its entirety what you’ve bought a ticket for?

Would you patronize a cinema that offered “tweet seats”? Or a stage production, for that matter?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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