Many of us would argue that using a smartphone in a theatre would be a social faux pas, but one theatre is now offering free seats to anybody prepared to tweet during the performance.
The Providence Performing Arts Center in Rhode Island has designated the back two rows as special “tweet seats.” Tickets for these seats are free for anybody who promises to live tweet the performance, while following strict guidelines and remaining discreet.
People sitting in the tweet seats must use a special custom hashtag. For example during the recent performance of the play Memphis, the hashtag was #MemphisPPAC.
Using the back row seats for tweeters is designed to avoid the light and sound from smartphones upsetting the view of other theatregoers. However some have suggested that using special balcony seating or even boxes would be less disruptive.
The idea isn’t unique: other theatres in Connecticut, Indiana, North Carolina and Ohio also offer so-called tweet seats, though the pricing situation varies. The free seating offer has been compared to the way professional reviewers from newspapers and magazines are given complimentary tickets.
Not everybody agrees it’s a good idea: Rebecca Curtis of the Boston Huntington Theatre Company told the Associated Press that “the experience that an audience member has in our theater should be limited to what they are seeing on the stage… we want the art on stage to speak for itself.”
Instead the Huntington Theatre is introducing a so-called “twittermission” where artists or members of the theatre staff can answer questions about the show during intermission using Twitter
The PPAC experiment will run until the end of 2013, at which point the theatre will evaluate whether it was successful.