Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company announced its first “Tweet Up” last week. Three of its Twitter followers will be selected to attend the first, technical and final dress rehearsals of Jason Grote’s new play, “Civilization (all you can eat).”
Brooke Miller, Woolly’s press and digital content manager, said Woolly’s goals are to integrate Twitter into the theater experience and provide “more transparency in our rehearsal and artistic process.”
They didn't ask the playwright's permission, and while he pointedly has not asked them to change their minds, he's not happy about it. What I'm interested in is their own thinking. I have to roll my eyes at the word "transparency," which suggests an ethical responsibility, but maybe they've just been living in Washington, D.C. too long and can't help sounding like politicians and don't intend that connotation. Still, I can't see how the tweeting could help the artistic process, and if anything it might further encourage people to confuse snap judgments in snappy language with seriously considered criticism. This looks like a publicity stunt.
Grote, an avid Twitter user (he has more than 1,500 followers), said he is not “categorically opposed to a live-tweeting theater,” rather that Woolly’s project “posed a fundamental misunderstanding of how Twitter works.” Tacking live-tweeting on as a component of a show at the end of the process doesn’t make sense, he said. “It needs to be integrated right from the conception. . . . [“Civilization”] is written in a style [that] requires a certain degree of listening and concentration.”