photo (7)Several months ago, I began reading about a new trend in theater(of the movie and the live show variety). There were some arenas who were setting aside blocks of seats to be used as “Tweet Seats.”

Along with this news came a barrage of commentary.

“That’s rude!” came a cry from a great many. “When people are on stage or on screen, your phone should be put away.”

“It’s a shame people are so addicted to their devices they can’t even sit for two hours without using them,” said others.

“Great idea!” Was more of a minority opinion response, I’ve noticed.

If you’re a twitter user and you’ve ever attended a class, conference or event that had a Twitter #hashtag, then you maybe understand the phenomenon of Tweet Seats better than the average non-Tweeter. At a lot of events anymore, Social Media users are engaging in conversations on the “Back Channel.” While the main event is happening, people are connecting and discussing and sharing information with each other, connected through devices, hashtags and apps.

photo (10)That either sounds awesome or awful to you, I suppose, but this blogger has found a great deal of value in conversations that happen this way, especially during conferences and classes.

Last night, the Henderson Area Arts Alliance offered a block of Tweet Seats for “Shrek The Musical,” the largest show ever to come to our fine arts venue. I was given a free ticket and a hashtag…and then a seat in the back and a quick tour backstage before the musical started.

A few notes about our Tweet Seats:

  • Our seats were in the very last row of the theater. No one was disturbed by the lights of our screens.
  • We were not just using our devices because we could. We had a purpose. We were live-tweeting the musical and engaging in conversations about it. None of us were just sitting there because we can’t stay off Facebook or Twitter for two hours.
  • We were all very attentive throughout the entire performance. A few over-achieving (“OGRE-achieving?”) tweeters were even doing some research about the actors and characters as they watched and tweeting things that were a bit more informative.

photo (9)For me, the night was just fun. Before the show started, I was able to walk through the backstage. While there, I met Shrek.

“Shrek?” I asked (once I found out it was actually okay to talk to him). “I’m sitting in a Tweet Seat tonight and I wondered if I could get a quick picture before the show?”

“Tweet Seat?” He asked. “That’s happening? Cool. Sure!”

After we took our picture, he asked me if I would tag him. “I’m @PerrySook,” he said, and spelled it for me.

I took my phone back to the lobby and became a celebrity for a moment as kids crowded around to see Shrek on my phone. And then the ogre himself appeared near the door and took a few photos with the children gathered there, so who needed my phone anymore?

As it turns out, Perry Sook makes a pretty incredible Shrek. The script was funny and creative, the songs were fun to listen to and the scenery was fantastic. I attempted a few photographs, but an iPhone camera does not do well with stage lighting, so although I did take a few, none of them were particularly great.

photo (8)
My fellow Tweeters: @NibbyP, @Evansville, @GregAGibson

At intermission, I talked to a boy from our church who was sitting a few rows up. “Mrs. Becky,” he informed me. “I looked back at you and you were playing with your phone.”

I flashed my nametag at him. “That’s my job tonight!”

“Lucky!” he replied.

All in all, I think the HAAA’s first attempt at offering Tweet Seats was a success. Kyle Arnett, the Executive Director of the Arts Alliance, is forward-thinking and has some great social media savvy.

It was a fun night for Henderson, Kentucky!