|A blurry photo I took at the event. Sorry, my hand was shaking — probably from all the excitement!
|(image via Jonathan Mandell)
The room then became “a-twitter” with conversation…in person! Many attendees — who vary from theatre company directors, bloggers, critics and casual theatre lovers — introduced themselves by name and then showed the tags that held their online identities. Exclamations of recognition were heard across the room, most of them to the tune of, “I know you!” and “Thanks for the retweets!”
If this had all started as an experiment in seeing whether social media could really be social, the organizers had definitely succeeded in this venture. Indeed, even as Sherman had pointedly instructed participants to introduce themselves and move on, in a manner not unlike that of a speed-dating event, everyone still seemed to give in to the rush of not having conversation be limited to 140 characters. More evident signs of the event’s success could be seen afterwards — online, of course. Many Tweeps continued the conversation there, using hashtag #TheaterTweetup, and following the people they’d just met. Finally, we see a true merging of both social networking and the media. By putting a face to the name, new relationships are better forged by using tweets as an icebreaker for meeting in person, and vice versa. People could now take their meetings into consideration for further collaboration, if the conversation that sparked was of interest and relevance to their professional needs.
All this happened just one day shy of Twitter’s 5th Birthday, which is probably no coincidence. The social networking site, which now has over 400 million users, has become known in the past couple years as a source of grassroots campaigns (President Obama) and revolutions (Libya). While that may be so, Theater people aren’t looking for a revolution. We’re in the business of making connections: onstage and offstage, online and offline.