Twitter and theatre make an unlikely pairing. With theatre’s ability to only exist in one time and one place and Twitter’s ability to capture the way someone feels in a particular moment, they go together like rama lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong. Theatre people use twitter to spark conversations about theatre with people that they wouldn’t have been able to communicate with otherwise. Twitter’s primary service to the theatre community is interaction, not promotion.
The problem with being a fan of live theatre is that it can be hard to share your excitement over a show with other people. While you can tell whoever you went to see the show with about how wonderful you thought the lead actor’s performance was and you can let your theatre friends know how the show was later, it’s hard to let the world at large know how excited you are about something in the moment it happened to you. Twitter allows that. Twitter gives people a medium to share their experiences and feelings with other fans who could be sitting on the other side of the world. Which has the added bonus of striking up interesting—and important—conversations.
2 AM Theatre (#2amt) is probably the most tangible example of this. Started in 2010, when several individuals were tweeting interesting questions about the nature of theatre, the project serves to be a “gathering place for theatre ideas,” and has branched out into other mediums such as blogs and podcasts. The whole project, however, wouldn’t exist without Twitter. Ultimately, Twitter allows these conversations to take place independent of location, so people can voice their opinions and multiple points of view can be heard. And while people consistently make fun of Twitter’s hashtag system, it allows people to find others interested in discussing the things they want to talk about—which can turn out to be some surprisingly large names, such as Lin-Manuel Miranda, Anna Kendrick, or Jason Robert Brown, all of whom run active Twitters.
Maybe it’s because everyone in the theatre community plays the duel role of both spectator and participant, but theatre celebrities are happy to join into the conversations Twitter is sparking, making the social media site unique in its ability to immediately put fans in contact with the people who inspire them.
And the thing about Twitter is that it’s participating in these conversations too. Twitter is the social media closest to live performance—people tweet something and receive an immediate reaction. Artists have just begun to flirt with the idea of using Twitter as theatre. The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Such Tweet Sorrow, for example, told a modern day Romeo and Juliet through tweets. In a five week period in 2010, six actors used the classic story as the perimeter for their Twitter accounts and improvised the rest online. The NY Neofuturists have attempted something similar, asking their audience to tweet them one-sentence plays. Twitter, in and of itself, is a type of performance. And theatre people love any type of performance.