Theater tweet seats: A highway to hell?

Minneapolis's Guthrie Theater is the latest to section off an area of the auditorium for those who want to tweet during a performance. Another sign of the Apocalypse?

And here's the fearless, rollicking show in question. Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

The pragmatic and the weak tend to believe that if you can't beat them, you should join them. However, a significant number of the world's humans would just as soon carry on beating them.

Please choose sides, then, on a subject that may divide the artistic community from here to eternity.

The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis is the latest to offer something that might stick in a throat or two: tweet seats.

Yes, this is a specially cordoned-off pen in which digital obsessives whip out their iPhones and tweet: "Oh, look. The fat lady's dead!" or "Caesar, look behind you!!" and other such essential pieces of information.

As the Daily Mail reports, the Guthrie isn't the first to sail down this modern, but troubled, communal aisle. New York's Public Theater, Florida's Palm Beach Opera and Cincinnati's Symphony Orchestra have all offered tweet seats without, seemingly, engendering fisticuffs on the balcony.

The Guthrie's External Relations Director, Trish Santini, externalized to the Mail:

This cast is an incredible ensemble of comedians, and night after night they're riffing and improvising -- it's the kind of show that makes you ask, "Did they just say that?" Usually they did -- and tweeting should be a great way to talk about it.

She was speaking of "The Servant of Two Masters," the show that will debut open arms for tweeters. In fact, the Guthrie's site virtually demands 140-character outbursts from some patrons, noting: "SPECIAL AUDIENCE SECTION ENCOURAGED TO USE TWITTER DURING PERFORMANCES."

Does that mean that special uniformed police will monitor whether you've strayed to Facebook to update your status or to like a local bar, where you're desperate to get a drink after "this dreary performance"?

Not everyone wants to embrace the presence of cell phones in theaters. Who can possibly forget the brutally beautiful reaction of Austin's Alamo Drafthouse to an ingrate of a texter who believed she had done nothing wrong by whipping out her phone at the movies?

One would hope, at least, that as time goes on and we become the gadgets' vassals, theaters will charge more for these premium seats.

Naturally, there will be those who will feel that if tweeters are to be accorded special privileges, then so should they. Might there be another section next to the tweet seat section from which people could throw candy and win a prize if they knock a cell phone out of a tweeter's hands?

 

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