I went to the Eugene Ballet today, to see a matinee performance of Sleeping Beauty.
The dancing was wonderful. I would highly recommend a trip to the Ballet sometime soon. But there was one outstanding distraction throughout the performance. It was an electronic one.
Before the performance, during the usual announcements and acknowledgements, it was announced that the Eugene Ballet is encouraging attendees to bring their cellphones to the performances, and, without flash, take pictures to submit to a photo contest they are holding. They are also encouraging the audience to write about where they are on any social networking platforms that they belong to. My friend Daniel and I exchanged a look right away: we both knew that this was one of those ideas that arts administrators thinks is a good idea, but really hasn’t been thought out all of the way.
Sure enough, as soon as the curtain rose, and during any climactic scene throughout the performance, we would hear little clicks, fake “capture” sounds, or see the light of an untamed flash. While it is a great idea to encourage your audience to participate in documenting your performance, to gain tweets or word-of-facebook recognition, asking people to do it without distracting others is impossible.
I found this article on the idea, explaining more the thoughts behind it. But as a participant, I can attest that in practice, this idea fell flat. I’m just thankful none of the Ballerinas did.