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Tweet Seats: Propeller

For our third tweet seats event, we saw Propeller Theater Company’s Twelfth Night at Power Center.

UMS: Tell us a little about you. If you have an online presence you like to share publicly, please tell us the relevant websites or user names/handles.

Annette Smith: Independent thinker, small furry creature lover, amateur photographer, lifelong learner, automotive marketing executive. Proud graduate of Chicago and Michigan. Find me @bluepersiancat on Twitter.

Hannah Mahalak: My name is Hannah Mahalak. I go to Chelsea High School as a Senior and plan to attend Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee next year. Currently I am involved in the high-school show choir, Company C, and also the Varsity Swim Team. I am @ha_m24 on Twitter.

Nisreen Salka: My name is Nisreen Salka and I am a freshman at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, studying Business Administration (Marketing) with a minor in Screen Arts and Cultures. I enjoy photography, writing, reading, and socializing with friends. I am very passionate about everything I do, and throw my heart and soul into my every endeavor. I am @Nizzi_Salka on Twitter.

Jasmine Hentschel: My relationship with UMS started back in my sophomore year at U of M, when I started interning in the production department. It was one of the most enriching, enlightening, and greatest learning experiences not only of my undergraduate career, but of my entire life. I currently work for Cambridge Michigan Language Assessments making standardized English language tests, and I’m headed to U of M’s School of Information to study computational linguistics in the fall. @JasmineShuree on Twitter.

UMS: In one sentence, how would you describe your relationship with technology?

Annette Smith: Love/hate. Still remember my first computer and discovering the internet…I didn’t sleep for two weeks, it was like the door to a magical whole new world had opened to me, and I couldn’t get enough. I also fell in love the first time I saw a flat screen television, but was too practical to buy one at $12K. The “hate” part comes having to figure out how to work/use the new stuff, and oftentimes getting frustrated while I’m doing this.

Hannah Mahalak: I would say I am pretty tech-savvy. I have a smart phone, so I tend to keep up with the latest and greatest trends and news updates.

Nisreen Salka: I believe that technology is an essential part of daily life; I use my iPhone, laptop, and camera every day to finish academic work, schedule appointments, coordinate extracurricular activities, and keep in touch with friends that I haven’t seen in a while.

Jasmine Hentschel: I am wonderfully overwhelmed by the incredible knowledge and power that technological advances of recent decades have afforded people all over the world.

UMS: Why did you decide to participate in this project?

Annette Smith: As someone relatively new to Twitter, I want to take my tweet game to the next level. Blending Twitter with my love of the arts seems like a natural step. I am intrigued by the prospect of being able to share my thoughts, reactions to the performance with others real-time. I’m also interested in how/if others respond. It may be crickets out there. We’ll see!

Hannah Mahalak: I am taking a class at Chelsea [High School] that is a mentorship course with UMS and getting a little taste of each department. I’m trying to get as much experience as I can in the music business and all that goes into it since that’s what I will be studying next year.

Nisreen Salka: Although I love technology as a whole, I have never jumped onto the social media bandwagon. I suppose I always thought it was some sort of fad, a waste of time, or a superficial way to gather information and/or keep in touch. It has recently dawned on me, however, that maybe social media has some merit, and I decided it was about time that I tried it. I want to see if it would really interfere with my life in a negative way, or actually improve my understanding of the world around me in the same way the rest of technology does. I would also like to see the impact it has on my understanding of the performance.

Jasmine Hentschel: I think UMS is an incredible organization that really brings a great deal of phenomenal art and culture to the vibrant city of Ann Arbor. Having worked as an intern for several years in the production department, I’ve been to dozens and dozens of UMS shows and I thought this would be an exciting new way to get involved. I am very curious to see how it feels to be engaged in the performance in a totally different way.

UMS: To you, what does it mean to “be present” during a performance or another arts experience?

Annette Smith: This is a tough one to put in words, but to me I think this means to be engaged in the artistic experience with my heart as well as my mind. When I’m “present”, I am 100% engaged. Every word/note/movement is heightened. Sometimes, I can actually feel the performance. To be honest, it’s easiest for me to “be present” at musical performances, where I close my eyes, and just focus on the sounds and how they make me feel. And when I finally feel that first frisson, I know I’m there.

Hannah Mahalak: To “Be Present” is a lot more than just sitting in the audience. I believe that you need to try and look for a deeper meaning to each story the performer is trying to convey. The more you invest into the performance the more you can get out of it.

Nisreen Salka: Being present in a performance means watching the performance attentively, understanding what is happening on stage, and connecting with the performers themselves.

Jasmine Hentschel: Being “present” is a matter of being engaged in a performance and giving it all of your consideration and attention, regardless of your preconceived notions and expectations of what it might be. It’s about not only noticing the little things, including all of the time and effort that gets put into every aspect of a performance, but also how it makes you feel before, during and after, and how you the art you’re watching ties into and relates to your personal experiences and those of all of mankind, whether it be theater, dance, music, or some other art form.

Meet the tweets.

How did tweeting affect your experience of the performance?

Annette Smith: I had to take my eyes off stage to tweet, so missed seeing a few things, but still felt like I heard everything. Tweet seat location – at back of the balcony – was not ideal. I could not really see facial expressions, costume details, etc. It’s a little tight and cramped having all of the tweeters (twitterers?) sitting side by side with the black boxes on our laps. Not unbearable, but there definitely wasn’t much space to move or stretch.

Hannah Mahalak: I really enjoyed the tweet seat experience. It made me pay attention to the play more and stay focused. It was a really unique and innovative way to get the word out about the performances and the UMS organization.

Nisreen Salka: Tweeting during the performance allowed me to express my opinions about the performance without speaking, and therefore without annoying others who were fully immersed in the play. It also encouraged me to think more about the purpose of the play, almost to critique it, rather than just follow the narrative. I was able to think more about the artistic merit of the performers, express those opinions to other interested viewers, and read their responses. Exposure to other viewers’ opinions also encouraged me to notice aspects of the performance that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Jasmine Hentschel: This was my first tweet seats experience, and it was definitely a little more difficult than I had expected. I think it would have been much different had it been a musical performance, because with music you can still hear and feel the music, even if you’re looking down at your phone. With Twelfth Night, I had difficulty getting adjusted to the language at first, and was completely unfamiliar with this particular play. I had a hard time trying to tweet during the performance at first because I had to completely stop paying attention and look down at my phone. It was a matter of removing myself from the very personal and introspective experience of watching, experiencing, and processing the play and changing my mindset to think about how to express my thoughts and opinions to a public audience. You have to not only carefully consider your thoughts, but also how to phrase them in a way that will make sense to other people. You have to use your brainpower to focus on minor things like spelling, grammar, and how to make your thoughts make sense that otherwise would never be crossing your mind during a performance.

Taylor Davis: I enjoyed that not only could I tweet my thoughts and experience, but through following the #umslobby hashtag I could communicate and interact by others.

Did you expect this effect or are you surprised by this outcome?

Annette Smith: I expected having to take my eyes off stage to tweet – no way around this. Since I was expecting this, it didn’t really bother me. The location of the seats was a surprise. To get the maximum visual experience of live theater, the back of the balcony is almost the last place you want to be. I didn’t expect the “tight” feeling from all of us sitting together. But we adjusted. After intermission, some of the tweet participants either exited or moved, freeing up space, and making it much more comfortable.

Nisreen Salka: I did expect to consider the performance more carefully, but I did not expect the strong effect of other viewers’ responses. At times, the tweets followed almost like a conversation, with questions and answers, and at others the tweets formed a list of comments. Both formats encouraged me to notice aspects of the performance I wouldn’t have otherwise, and to consider those elements when I tweeted again.

Hannah Mahalak: Yes, I expected to pay more attention to the play and get really involved in the play and each character.

Jasmine Hentschel: I definitely expected some sense of disconnect just considering the nature of the gig. However, like I said, I think I didn’t totally take into account the fact that doing this for a musical performance and a play is a totally different thing. It was a little harder than I anticipated, but I think it definitely would’ve been easier if I had been more familiar with the play ahead of time!

Taylor Davis: I was surprised by how much I really enjoyed interacting with others. At first, I was nervous that I didn’t really have anything that I considered “tweet worthy” and that my twitter followers would enjoy and interact with. However, as the performance progressed, I was able to see what other people were saying through following the #umslobby hashtag. Once I was able to read their tweets and see their interactions, I tailored my tweets to join in the conversation.

What I found the most surprising was that I had two friends text me that the next time I go to a UMS event they want to come with. I also had someone respond to my tweet asking where I was, which is kind of a cool grassroots and authentic way that UMS can further their marketing.

Curious to try it? Sign up.