Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Blog: Critical Condition, November 16, 2011

November 16, 2011
@MargaretAtwood, may I call you Mags, now?

by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

This week I had one of the highpoints of my career. Margaret Atwood retweeted one of my postings on Twitter. I had drawn attention to a terrific article Vanessa Porteous had written for CharPo about an all-female production of Atwood's Penelopiad. Suddenly 276,000 people knew about this terrific article and the web traffic for it exploded and I suddenly had a ton of new followers on Twitter.

Here's the thing. Theatre life is about promotion.

I asked Vanessa to promote her production; no fool she, she turned in a terrific article; I promoted that piece and, by extension, The Penelopiad, Atwood and - of course - CharPo. Atwood, a seasoned pro, promoted us all. No one spent a cent but the word was out.

This is the joy of networking - it works, and works well, when you know the tricks.


Confession: The first time I tweeted Vanessa's article, Atwood did nothing. Ah! well, I thought - she's a busy lady. But two weeks later Atwood herself tweeted that she had, indeed, been busy and away from Twitter. Aha! So I retweeted the article with a funny quote from Vanessa's piece. Voila!

I am a Twitter neophyte, compared to many (Atwood, f'r'insatnce.) But I have learned some things which have served CharPo well.

Why haven't so many theatres? Why don't theatres understand that their Twitter feed must be human, not institutional - must be part of a talk with followers. The one thing I don't want when I follow a company is a retweet that tells me that @housewifeinTO loved their latest production. (So many companies just retweet their fanz' tweets.) I want the the reviews, yes, but also want what COC does - retweet the people IN the shows: their fears, their backstage gossip, their jokes.


  1. I agree completely.

    I was often gagged when I managed the twitter feed for one of the large, local subscription-based companies.

    Anything that cannot be meticulously spun or controlled by a Director of Communications is seen ultimately as a threat, a potential affront to stakeholders, an excuse for funding to get pulled, and outside the scope of marketing to the bread-and-butter that is 50+ crowd.

    I think the direct quote I got was "On peut pas faire n'importe quoi, on n'est pas La Chapelle, nous autres, on a des comptes à rendre."

    I believe this attitude to be key in driving theatre directly into irrelevance.

  2. What bugs me is that theatres - the essence of social networking - don't realize that FB and Twitter are wonderful extensions of the conversation. If they are going to retweet fanz, why not tell us why what the fan says is important. The best was COC who put one of their marketing people in the chorus of an opera and he was tweeting all sorts of delightful things, none of it clearly geared to selling tickets. I don't mind if theatres don't tweet pans, but wouldn't it be delightful if they did and added, "Look what fuckbrain is saying this time!"


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