It was 6.30pm on the opening night of A Super Brady Cabaret at Melbourne’s Chapel Off Chapel. The show was about to start at any moment and like all good theatre goers I had just turned my mobile phone to silent and placed it in my handbag. Then the announcement came: “This is a live tweeting show” followed by “use the hashtag #asuperbradycabaret”.
Wait? What? This was a live tweeting show? In those opening moments I turned to my husband, asked him if he could confirm the hashtag they’d just mentioned, reached down to grab my phone … and then became so engrossed in this hilarious one hour show I didn’t even manage to turn the phone back on.
Production image: Belinda Strodder
After the show I spoke to other audience members in the foyer who were feeling the same way.
“I was going to live tweet but I didn’t get a chance” and “The show was so good I didn’t get time to tweet” were the comments.
Personally, I’ve never really been sure about encouraging live tweeting and now I had missed the opportunity to give it a go. I decided to return to the theatre a few days later, see the show again and this time live tweet.
So there I was, sitting in my aisle seat and grateful that the only person I might disturb with the light of my phone was my husband who had happily returned to see the show with me just so I could try some live tweeting. I checked the hashtag and sent out a tweet explaining I was about to live tweet during the show (for any of my followers wondering what I was doing). The show commenced – and so did my live tweeting. The advantage this time was that I knew the show. I knew the funniest parts and the moments when I could take my eyes off the action for a brief moment to type (thank goodness for appropriately spaced songs!)
The tweeting wasn’t hard to do – I even managed to spell words correctly before sending them off into the Twitterverse. It wasn’t even hard to think of something to tweet: some short phrase related to the action. Tweets like “Not straight Bobby” or “Carol wants to play Mrs Robinson again”. I could have tweeted “Poor Jan” all night. I did consider which lines to tweet – such as “Put your jacket on, you look like a tampon!” Would it make any sense to anyone not at the show? Of course not – it’s a visual gag. By the time I’d considered all this, the moment had passed and I’d moved on to another tweet idea. Yes, tweeting itself wasn’t difficult.
What was difficult, however, was watching the show AND tweeting at the same time. Again, I found myself wanting to put the phone down and just enjoy the show, despite knowing the punch lines (some of them still make me laugh as I think about them). A Super Brady Cabaret is a fast paced hour with some clever one liners that have the audience in hysterics. Even knowing the lines I was still laughing out loud and trying to tweet. For a comedy, live tweeting feels okay. It’s like hearing a funny joke and jabbing someone with your elbow to make sure they heard it as well. I’m just not sure how it would go for a drama.
In the reasonably small space of the chapel at Chapel Off Chapel, I’m not sure if the light from phones was distracting at all for the performers. I suppose if they’ve encouraged the tweeting then seeing a few little lights in the audience might actually be a positive thing? I didn’t notice anyone around me with their phones out, so I’m not sure if anyone else was tweeting that night. I have read some tweets from other performances though. Of course my phone remained on silent throughout the show, which was important since I was getting a few tweets favourited during the live tweeting experience – mostly from people who had already seen the show and were reliving it through my tweets.
I managed to tweet out two photos: one during the audience participation segment and one during the curtain call … although looking at this one now, the photos are certainly not the best quality. Clearly I should have pre loaded some top quality production images into my phone ready to tweet at the appropriate moments in the show. Now that would have been impressive!
So what did I learn from my live tweeting experience?
a) If you live tweet you’re going to miss some of the action (unless you can type without needing to check your screen at all)
b) It helps to know the show
c) It works for a comedy
d) It’s a good way to promote the show if you use the right hashtags
e) After the show expect a LOT of notifications as performers and producers favourite your tweets
f) Keep your phone on silent the whole time
Although this was a fun, one-off experience I still believe phones are best left on silent and tucked away where no one will be interrupted, but I am willing to consider it for future comedies if the audience is encouraged to live tweet. I was also glad it was only a one hour show.
If you’re interested in giving it a go, grab a ticket and your phone and head to Chapel Off Chapel before the season of A Super Brady Cabaret finishes on Saturday. Just remember the hashtag: #asuperbradycabaret.
Oh and you can find me on Twitter @allisonhilbig for those who are curious …