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The power of social media in the theatre world


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Interesting and slightly scarey piece in The Stage from a theatrical agent about the use of Twitter, Facebook etc in assessing the saleability or bankability of performers. The message is that if you have lots of followers you must be popular, ergo employable. No mention of skill or competence, it's all about popularity.

 

Might this apply in the dance world too? Looking through Royal Ballet dancers on Twitter (simply because I have a list of them) Lauren Cuthbertson (who tweets a lot) comes out top with nearly 4,000 followers, Avis, Bonelli, Gartside, Kobborg lag well behind with about 2,000. (The Royal Opera House itself has about 50,000.)

 

I don't think one can take this very seriously but I hope it's not really the case that performers are now expected to puff up their public profiles in this way.

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Well, it's certainly being used in the dance world, although whether or not it's quite as deliberate as that I don't know. Looking at the company listings for San Francisco Ballet the other week, I noticed a few names I recognised who turned out to be further down the rankings than I would have expected from the point of view of recognition. Then I realised: I knew their names from Twitter. May never have actually read anything they've tweeted, but I've seen other people responding to them. I guess Twitter, like any other medium, can be used positively or abusively as the tweep sees fit (and I'm not accusing anyone here, just commenting).

 

As for the original article, John, I'm afraid this is just an extension of the "reality TV casting" phenomenon. Never mind whether you're actually a better singer than the next candidate, just get yourself on TV week in, week out and boost your popularity ratings (preferably with some sort of hard-luck story?)

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