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Mark Leiren-Young

Posted by Shannon

Don't tweet from that seat
My old pal Mark Leiren-Young and I debate the issue of tweet seats in theatres over at the Tyee this month -- he's for it, I'm against -- and it highlights how we're all still figuring out how to use the new technology. 
"But I got the idea for doing tweet seats from YOU!" Mark said, after I protested against him inviting the Twitterati into a mainstream Vancouver theatre. The stage incarnation of his Leacock winning book Never Shoot a Stampede Queen is a conventional one-man show.  
Sure enough, I checked my blog and there it was, a year ago: me noting that tweet seats are a form of free advertising, and the performing arts should just get with the program. 
http://shannonrupp.com/blogs/shannon/case-comping-tweet-monkeys
Clearly the many artistic directors protesting the latest trend had thought it through better than I. Sure, Twitterati offer a form of free publicity, but it's one that robs audiences of the unique experience of theatre. There's something warm, human, and intimate about the shared experience of seeing a play in a darkened room with other people. 
The energy is shaped and shifted by the work on the stage and the audience's reaction to it. We know what others are thinking by the feeling in the room. The alert silence. The chuckles. Sometimes, the snoring. 
The distracted Twitterati also put out an energy that is disruptive to both the performers and the audience. 
We know people are longing for the sort of shared experienced that comes with theatre because of the way in which Twitter has created a newfound enthusiasm for watching TV in real time. No one has done that since sometime in the 1980s before we all learned how to program our VCRs and timeshift. 
Don't get me wrong. I'm a technophile and as our tweet-seat debate notes, I'm all for tweet-walls in the lobby. Twitpics of the beautiful people at intermission and digital chatter about the first act seem like a natural extension of what we already do. 
And in the era a disappearing journalism anything that raises awareness of what's going on in our communities strikes me as a public service. Just keep'em out of the performance.  
 

My old pal Mark Leiren-Young and I debate the issue of tweet seats in theatres over at the Tyee this month -- he's for it, I'm against -- and it highlights how we're all still figuring out how to use the new technology. 

"But I got the idea for doing tweet-seats from YOU!" Mark said, after I protested against him inviting the Twitterati into a mainstream Vancouver theatre.

Sure enough, I checked my blog and there it was, a year ago: me noting that tweet seats are a form of free advertising, and the performing arts should just get with the program.

Clearly the many artistic directors protesting the latest trend had thought it through better than I.

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Posted by Shannon

Would-be journos often ask what they should read to get a feel for the business and I always point to Never Shoot a Stampede Queen.  Mark Leiren-Young’s memoir of his first year as a reporter in B.C.’s Cariboo region won the 2009 Leacock Medal for humour, and it’s a great primer on what it’s really like to be a reporter. It belongs on the reading list at every school for ink-stained-wretches.

Mark’s year at the Williams Lake Tribune was a news junkie’s dream. While his pals interning on the big city dailies were assigned to cover that 65th wedding anniversary in the ‘burbs, he was in cowboy country covering multiple homicides, train wrecks, and a court case involving a bomb-toting defendant.

Of course, he learned one sorry truth of the news business. You’ll never get as much (hostile) attention for your work as when you run an unflattering photo of the local beauty queen.

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