You know how much we love Creation Theatre, so when Charlie asked if she could do a guest blog it was our pleasure to say yes, yes, yes. Have a read and then join her conversation…
Amongst the many debates that are fluttering around the theatre world at the moment the issue of ‘tweet seats’ is in all honesty quite a long way behind funding… but nonetheless there are murmurs of debate in auditoriums and marketing departments around the country: Should we encourage audience members to share their responses to shows there and then, or is it just plain rude to give more attention to your smartphone than the professionals slogging their guts out on the stage in front of you?
Guardian readers clearly aren’t too keen on the idea, but I find that quite hard to square with the dedicated tweeter in me, and the fact that the only thing anyone wants to know at the end of the show is ‘what did the audience think?’. Engaging with the show and your fellow audience members in real time means you’ll capture the moment of shock when the apothecary’s plan falls apart (which it always does), and those sparks of ideas ignited by great theatre will be yours to keep.
The Factory (@_factory), who hopefully lots of you saw in their amazing shows Hamlet and The Odyssey in The Norrington Room earlier in the year, are pretty hot on their social media. One of the cast gets back on the stage at the end of the show to entreat the audience to send them feedback through Facebook and twitter, and each show has a public show report wiki that anyone is welcome to join in on.
Which is great when it comes from the cast, but how do we as a theatre company get somewhere towards having a ‘policy’ on this sort of thing? This summer in our Merchant of Venice we’re trialling putting on a special show called Ideas Aloud, where, much like our friends at The Factory we’ll be positively encouraging the audience to tweet during the show – and not just tweet, paint, sketch, take photos, write a poem, do a cross-stitch, you get the idea.
Much like our family shows we want you to be able to see our show in the way that suits you. At these special shows if you need to explain the intricacies of the plot to a four year old, or take a flash photo of the hero, be our guest. Come to an Ideas Aloud show and no-one is going to stop you taking a photo or tut at you for the sound of lead scratching on paper. We know that this isn’t the environment in which everyone wants to take in their Shakespeare but if you fancy live tweeting your first Shakespeare or sharing some of our vintage 1930s costume on Instagram than this might just be the show for you.
This is the first time we’ve offered a specific show like this and I’d love to know what you think: would you rather tweeting and photography were allowed at every show? How would you feel if the person sitting next to you was on their phone all the way through? Do you find it frustrating not being able to share your thoughts on the show with the company and your friends as they happen? Please pitch in by commenting below.
The Merchant of Venice runs from 7July to 1 September at The Said Business School, the Ideas Aloud show will take place on Sunday 29July.