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Theaters set aside tweet seats for Twitter users

December 6, 2011 |  7:15 am

Tweet seats, seats in theaters that are set aside for people who want to tweet a performance, appear to be a growing trend

Perhaps the most unexpected thing about "tweet seats" is that they exist. Perhaps the second-most-unexpected thing about them is that they appear to be a growing trend.

A tweet seat is a seat in a theater that has been approved by the theater for use by someone who would like to tweet a performance. Whip out your cellphone and start tweeting at a rock show and nobody will notice -- the rest of audience is probably shooting cellphone pictures anyway. But try that at the opera and you'll be glared at, unless you are in a tweet seat.

Tweet seats first started surfacing at the end of the '00s. In 2009, the Lyric Opera in Kansas reserved 100 tweet seats for its final performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's "HMS Pinafore." In those seats (and only those seats) audience members could use their phones to look at tweeted content sent by the theater's artistic director about the production, the scenery and whatever was happening on stage. Audience members were also encouraged to tweet questions in real time.

According to a recent article about tweet seats in USA Today, twitter-friendly seats have since been adopted by others, including the Carolina Ballet in Raleigh, N.C., the Dayton Opera in Dayton, Ohio, and the historical Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Conn.

And soon tweet seats may be coming to Broadway. Jennifer Tepper, the director of promotions for "Godspell" on Broadway, told USA Today that the production definitely intends to use them.

"While we haven't done tweet seats, they are certainly in our plan for the future at 'Godspell,'" she said.

If you find the idea of tweet seats hard to swallow, don't despair. The next time you go to the symphony, the orchestra will almost certainly not be accompanied by your neighbor desperately tapping at her phone.

Tweet seats are generally reserved on one side of an auditorium to keep the cellphone glare from interfering with non-tweeting audience members' enjoyment of a performance. At the Dayton Opera, tweet seats are only available on certain nights of a show's run.

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-- Deborah Netburn

Image: Empty seats at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. But are they tweet seats? Credit: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times

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