Twespians – A Revolution?

February 3, 2010

Take one part theatre, and one part twitter. What is the outcome? Twespians.

Last night I was lucky enough to be part of a mini revolution in the way that I communicate with people in theatre, by taking part in a TweetUp. The idea of a tweetup is essentially a group of Twitter users meet at a set location and time to mingle, talk and have a good few drinks. Twespians is the theatre version.

I’ll be open and admit that the effect that Twitter has had upon my life is quite strong. It’s allowed me to express a huge passion I have with other equally passionate people. It has scored me tickets for shows, and equally kept me up to date with the latest theatre news and gossip. Andrew Llyod Webber has cancer? Through Twitter. Peter Brook as part of the new Bite Festival. Twitter. Too Close To The Sun, the biggest flop to hit west end … Twitter. What about the Donmar’s bad attempt at recycling old brochures? Reported through TwitPic, and Twitter.

Twitter has allowed me to connect with people from all over the world, who share the same drive and passion that I have. It’s a slow process, that develops over the course of many months. Conversation is brief but to the point, with only 140 characters there is no waffling allowed. Strictly a ‘to the point’ matter.

Whilst all of this is great for communicating over the internet, what happens when you bring these people together in the real world? Twespians answered this questionl last night, by organising a TweetUp as part of Social Media Week.

Upon arrival you are given a name badge to which you fill in your username and favourite show. You get yourself a drink at the bar, and then you begin to talk to people. The course of the night is extremely varied, depending on who you talk with. There are several people who I’ve met off Twitter to see various shows with before, yet equally there are those who I’ve solely spoken to through 140 characters at a time.

The night was absurd, surreal and brilliant all at once.

To have in one room, such a mix of people from all forms of theatre interests and jobs – talking together is remarkable. From journalists, bloggers, actors, directors, students, social media artists, administrators, marketers and facilitators. You almost have to take a moment to take in what is actually happening around you.

If Twitter is to be integrated more into the theatre industry then it is through an event such as Twespians TweetUp that we can begin to break down these boundaries of theatre roles, and begin to work towards something greater. What that is I don’t know. Networkings, Jobs, Drinking Buddies… well… the possibilities are too vast to list.

One thing that did strike me though is the possibilities of such an event. A group of students from Queen Mary’s University studying Drama and Physical Theatre joined the event. Hearing their passion for an industry they are desperate to be in is inspiring, yet equally their craving for information and advice from people already working or performing showed how useful such an event can be to people.

People can laugh at the way in which people engage with the internet and social media, but there is no denying the power and potential it has. If you can write an opera through twitter and produce full length twitter plays – what can you do with it?

Interested in Twespians? Check out of the website and twitter account for more information. The next Twespians TweetUp will be announced shortly, so stayed tuned.


Twitter and Theatre

June 28, 2009

To Tweet Or Not To Tweet

This is a direct response upon reading Ruth Jamieson’s article on Twitter and the Theatre over here on the Guardian Website Blogs. I’ve literally just stopped reading the article and can’t wait to even digest the ideas in it before I have to respond in writing this.

I was going to save the whole idea of Twitter, Theatre and the Beniefits for another time, but I am so fueled up to proclaim:

“NO, NO, NO!”

Should you be sending 140 characters to Twitter whilst you watch a piece of theatre: NO.

Should you even be using your phone in the theatre: NO.

Should you wait until the Interval or After the show…: YES.

If there was someone in the theatre who had more time to be on their phone ‘informing’ the world about the show they are seeing, then the play/show/theatre is obviously not worth seeing and they should remove themselves from the theatre immediately or they should wait until the interval and not return.

To watch theatre is to get lost in a world of life presented on stage. It’s often quirky, often bizarre, but completely captivating. We’ve all sat through a piece of theatre and wanted to leave, fall asleep, or be anywhere else apart from sitting watching this dribble. That doesn’t mean we must Tweet about it to our followers, stating how terrible the production is. Doing so is just as annoying as someone calling their friend on their mobile and discussing it in the middle of a show. It’s not right. It’s wrong. And it is RUDE.

I’m all for micro-reviewing on Twitter, I did so myself until I felt the need to expand my reviews into a full blog. I honestly believe that since I’ve started using Twitter as a way of communicating with fellow theatre enthusiaists that I have been introduced into a whole host of like-minded people who all share a passion for theatre. We discuss it, we criticise it, but we don’t go as far to disturb fellow real-life audience members with it.

I am young, I am all for new modern crazes, I was there for myspace, facebook, and now twitter, but there are limits to the ways we use these devices.

If people are waiting to hear your response to a piece of theatre they should see it with you, not be constantly refreashing their Twitter accounts to see if anyone has Tweeted about a show. I just can’t ever see a theatre show being that important that there are people literally hanging onto their Twitter accounts desperate to hear what you have to say.

My advice is simple:

Enjoy Twitter. Enjoy Theatre. Respond to theatre through Twitter. But not during a show.

Interval and After ONLY.

Reference: “Welcome to the tweet seats: Twitter at the theatre”