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Minnesota theater introduces 'Tweet Seats' for web-addicted audiences

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The theater may seem like the least appropriate place to check your Twitter feed, but that's exactly the kind of behavior a Minnesota venue is encouraging with the launch of a designated "Tweet Seats" section. The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis opened up its Tweet Seats for the first time this week, for the first of four performances of The Servant of Two Masters. Priced at $15 a ticket (compared to the $34 a standard ticket costs), the seats are all located in a balcony-level section where, according to the theater, spectators' Twitter habits "will not be disruptive to other patrons."

It sounds a lot like a smoking lounge for social media addicts — a roped-off area exclusively dedicated to fix-getting — but the Guthrie Theater's External Relations Director Trish Santini says the intent was not to quarantine smartphone users, but to encourage deeper interaction with the show. The Servant of Two Masters, she adds, should also provide plenty of comedic fodder for online engagement.

Like Twitter, but more dramatic

"This cast is an incredible ensemble of comedians, and night after night they're riffing and improvising — it's the kind of show that makes you ask, ‘Did they just say that?'," Santini said in a statement. "Usually they did — and tweeting should be a great way to talk about it."

That's assuming that people will choose to tweet about the performance instead of other things, which may be a big ask of human nature. But regardless of how theatergoers choose to allocate their tweet time, the Guthrie and other venues seem more willing to embrace the mobile habits of contemporary audiences, rather than discourage them. Theaters in Boston launched similar experiments late last year, as have the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Palm Beach Opera and New York's Public Theater.