I was embroiled in a Twitter-fest last night and didn't take the time to actually read the USA Today story that the AV Club piece on texting in theaters referred to until this morning. From that story, I particularly noticed these choice bits:
"Hale says there were "no negative comments" from patrons about the tweet seats, located in the back row of the theater to avoid disrupting other patrons."
"Broadway productions...have not used tweet seats. But...the director of promotions for Godspell on Broadway says the production intends to use them."
"Quote: 'Tweeting the CSO's performance was like attending a members-only social event in the midst of a traditionally formal setting.'"
My only purpose in continuing to talk about this is to reinforce the point that social media has fundamentally transformed the way we interact with the world. Even two years ago, I couldn't watch Survivor while simultaneously trading barbs with the show's host via Twitter. I watch the Oscars or the Tonys these days as eager to read the commentary from my Facebook friends as to see what happens on screen. At my work, I am bombarded daily by information on how social media is transforming marketing, sales, and business development. The "rulebooks" for how certain things happen are getting rewritten every day. I'm not advocating for these changes; they are already here.
So, yes, we can all agree that texting can be rude, disrespectful, and totally inappropriate. But, like it or not, it also may be coming soon to a theater near you.
In the meantime, people involved in theater can spend their time making disparaging remarks or value judgments. Or they can look at the issue dispassionately and with an understanding of their audience and make what they consider appropriate decisions. Whether it's zero tolerance or no holds barred or something in between, that's for each company to decide. But I would suggest they make those decisions without a load of inflexible baggage filled with preconceptions about what theater is "supposed to be" or of what their audience is interested in. For some, theater is the highest form of art. For others, it's just one of a dozen options of what to do on a Saturday night.
Theater people are creative people. Certainly they can be creative about dealing with this issue.