Tweeting in the Theater.. Yay or Nay?

Trying to find innovative ways to market classic theater is no mean feat and it’s something we all struggle with Antaeus. As I was checking in with Kendra Chell, who is appearing in next week’s performance of “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” our conversation couldn’t help but stray to her day job as Company and Administrative Manager of Antaeus. That means the duty typically falls to her figure out how to attract new audiences to Antaeus shows. If you follow us on twitter, you’ve been following her. In addition to being a talented actress (If you don’t believe me, watch her steal the scenes she has in “Long Day’s…”), Kendra is passionate about Antaeus shows reaching as wide an audience as possible. As the person who sits next to her, I can vouch for how hard she works in pursuit of this goal.

Kendra Chell in 2008's ClassicsFest production of The Rover

One of Kendra’s latest ideas is our Tuesday Night Tweet Night. All Tuesday nights during ClassicsFest are Company Nights, open only to Antaeus Company members. These Company Nights are a great way for everybody to come together and support each other’s work. Plus, it’s always nice to have an audience to laugh and cheer during the final dress rehearsal (I accidentally typed “stress rehearsal,” which I think is Freudian.). We’re taking advantage of these evenings, an amalgamation of an actual performance and a rehearsal, to try out live tweeting. Every Tuesday night, we have a crew of Antaeus tweeters, give or take a few special guests, live tweet the performance. This means they tweet their comments on the show as it’s actually happening. Maybe they quote a line, maybe they note a particularly fantastic performance of a scene, maybe they just want to remind all people in the tweetverse that Harry Groener, who is playing Feste in “Twelfth Night,” recurred on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” They can tweet whatever they want, so long as they tag it with the hashtag “#cf11” which allows all the tweets to be linked up (Check out Tweeting 101 and Twitter Glossary if this is all Greek to you.). In order to keep disruption to a minimum, all the tweeters sit in the back row, so the light won’t bother other audience members or actors on stage, and they keep the phones on silent.

Kendra was inspired by other theaters around the country to bring Tweet Nights to Antaeus and I think it’s a great idea. Already, it’s inspired discussions on twitter about Antaeus and we think these discussions are encouraging new people to check out our theater. Unfortunately, not every actor agrees and there’s been some unexpectedly passionate pushback from the company. “I think people liken it to answering their phone or a phone going off in the theater, which I’m not a fan of either,”  Kendra said, “but there have been some very very strong reactions that do surprise me, bordering on absolute fury, and it’s been interesting.” However, management has taken the stance that we need to forge ahead with this new initiative and we’ve done everything possible to make the actors understand why it is we’re trying this and why we think it’s important. As Kendra put it, “on the whole, people have been supportive once we’ve had our conversations about it though and once I explain that it brings awareness to the company and about ClassicsFest and doesn’t degrade their art.”

Kendra is appearing in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” which will be our third go at the Tuesday Night Tweet Night and I asked if she was nervous to be on the other side of the twitter feed, so to speak. “As the person that’s implemented it, I feel pretty okay with, though if they got to sit in the front row and tweet whenever wherever, as opposed to a controlled environment on a designated evening, I’d have a problem with it. It’s interesting with ‘Long Day’s…’ because it’s a long, heartbreaking play, whereas the other two shows we’ve already done are on the lighter side. I’m curious to see what they choose to comment on.”

What do you think about Tuesday Night Tweet Night? We’d love to hear your thoughts! And if you’re interested in becoming a Tuesday Night Tweeter, please DM our twitter account @AntaeusCompany.

Summer Intern and Columbia University MFA Candidate Jen Hoguet is keeping you up-to-date on all things ClassicsFest this summer at Antaeus. She can be reached via email at jen@antaeus.org or followed on twitter @JHoToGo …..

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2 Comments

  1. […] reading the ClassicsFest Tuesday Night Tweeting for The Doctor’s Dilemma, I got very excited to try it the following week at Twelfth Night […]

  2. […] Jen Hoguet | Tweeting in the Theater: Yay or Nay? […]


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