Playmakers Repertory Company recently approached me with an unconventional request – to use my phone during a play. Phone usage, while generally frowned upon, can potentially serve a legitimate function for a theater production. PRC was hosting a pilot-run "Tweet Seats" event, in which a group of people (seated respectfully in the back row) live-tweeted during a Tuesday night performance of Edward Albee's 1962 play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. Live-tweeting has been a presence in the media lately – major newspapers have written about it, and theater companies across the country are trying it in various forms. It is a unique medium in which folks at home can interact with people who are actually watching the show. It has been successful in other venues – Jeff Probst tweets during every episode of Survivor – does it have a place in live theater? We'll see.
After getting over the initial shock of being asked to actually use my phone during a live theater performance, I enthusiastically agreed. I was a little nervous, since I'm not in "the industry" – as a full-time teacher and part-time blogger; I wasn't sure how qualified I was for such an event. The others there were a little more closely tied to the biz – one was a theater producer from out of town, one was the assistant director of the production, one had arranged a similar event for a different performing arts company, and one other had experience live-tweeting. It was a nice mix of people for lively discussion. Before the show, we met for discussion, snacks, and wine, and we dimmed our smartphone screens to minimize disruption. During the show, we tweeted our reactions to the show, asked questions, and discussed the production. It was a great experience, and I hope it helped fans connect with the theater company and the play, and perhaps encouraged a few folks to see it.
Having never seen or read Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? before, I must say that I found the play and this production to be fantastic. I make it no secret that I absolutely love Playmakers Repertory Company, and they did not disappoint! The acting was Broadway quality, and the design was first-rate. I was occasionally so enthralled by the show that I would forget to tweet for a few scenes. Albee's writing is crisp and real, qualities which were magnified by all the production choices. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way, because my fellow tweeters agreed.
You can read our live-tweets, which were all marked with the hashtag #PRCWoolf.
For tickets and more information, visit www.playmakersrep.org.