Smart Phones & Theater: Godspell's Tweet Seats Spread the Word

Posted by Tim Mikulski, Mar 26, 2012 4 comments

We've all been in a play when a phone goes off. Sometimes we see the actors react, while other times the show just continues.

Up until recently, it was forbidden to keep that phone on during a show, but thanks to experiments by local/regional theaters, the idea of "Tweet seats" has grown to Broadway via the new Godspell revival:

We've heard all sides of this issue:

Cell phones are just the new "individually wrapped candy wrapper."

The fad of "Tweet seats" is just a marketing gimmick.

As stated in the Rock Center piece, leaving phones on is a generational issue that will end soon.

"Tweet seats" are the gateway drug to allowing it to happen for every performance—from ballet to opera.

I think it's fine to acknowledge the social media presence and try to corral it before it gets out of control, and if helps get some butts in seats, all the better.

What do you think?

4 responses for Smart Phones & Theater: Godspell's Tweet Seats Spread the Word


March 26, 2012 at 2:09 pm

The recent ROCK CENTER piece about tweet seats at GODSPELL was rather late to the party, as was GODSPELL itself; that was merely the first instance of Broadway adopting a technique that non-profit theaters had been experimenting with for some time. The debate about tweet seats has been going on in articles, blogs, TV features and (yes) tweets at least since December 1, when USA TODAY did a major feature on the topic, sparking no end of discussion. Here’s a link to that story, more than three months ago:

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March 26, 2012 at 2:52 pm

That's true, Howard. As I stated in the intro, this is something that local and regional theaters have been working on for a while. I thought it was interesting that a news magazine of all things would cover such a story.

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March 28, 2012 at 10:56 pm

Thanks, Mary. For our visitors, Mary's website is

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March 28, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Hi Tim –
My partners and I have seen a lot of interesting experimentation with Twitter. In our How Strong Is Your Social Net? Survey of social media usage and effectiveness – which more than 1600 arts practitioners completed – we asked for best/worst examples. My favorite twitter stories came from two theaters – the Milwaukee Chamber Theater and ArtsEmerson: The World on Stage in Boston. Both were very creative in using what they have to connect with patrons and channel audience enthusiasm. The Milwaukee Theater offers tweet seats to tweeters with strong followings – seating them in the third balcony which the managing Director said they never sold anyway! And ArtsEmerson uses its marquee as a billboard for enthusiastic comments from tweeters through its “See Your Tweet in Lights” campaign. Both ideas are creative and engaging and don’t disturb other audience members who might not like to be in the Tweet space.
Check out the stories on our website.
Cheers! Mary

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