Friday, February 5, 2010

"I can't tweet on. I'll tweet on."

Former Hunger Artists Theatre artistic director Jeremy Gable hightailed it to Philly last year but remains ubiquitous through the social media.

His latest venture, "The 15th Line," is a drama playing out entirely in 140-character maximum-length tweets on Twitter, commencing recently and continuing through March.

It's fascinating but it also lays bare the limitations of Twitter as a medium for drama.

The title presumably refers to a real subway station in Philadelphia and features 4 characters, 3 male and 1 female, each with a Twitter account (including their own personal profile pages).

The first tweet was on January 25:

PATRICK: Breaking News - Subway accident at 15th St Station. 21 believed dead, 17 injured. Cause is not yet known.

Each character is impacted by this accident in different ways, to be pieced out by the audience from sometimes cryptic, sometimes transparent tweets they post. And their tweets are consistent with the kind of messages people typically communicate through Twitter--random thoughts, expressions of frustration, attempts to reach out, proffering help, lonely musings. It possesses a high degree of authenticity, but also takes a long time to get to know these characters and to glean exactly what's taking place.

Gable tosses in a little inside joke for his friends back in the Orange County theatre scene by naming that city's Mayor Hodgins--coincidentally the name of the OC Register's longtime theatre writer & critic. (The real Philly Mayor is Michael Nutter.)

Though Gable's characters tweet daily, their terse text messages are rather few--only a handful are posted daily. If you're only an occasional Twitter follower, that means you can easily catch up on what's happening in the play. However, it also results in long waits for action to occur, or rather, be reported upon since we obviously can never SEE anything beyond the script and our own imagination.

So, this morning, I'm waiting for Gable.

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