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Hey mister, that's me up on the marquee

Posted by Don Aucoin  February 7, 2011 01:44 PM

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     There's nothing new about artistic directors imploring theater audiences to "Let us know what you think,'' as Robert J. Orchard did before a recent performance of "The Color of Rose'' at the Paramount Center.

     But it's not often that audiences hear what Orchard said next: "It may end up on the marquee.''

      ArtsEmerson: The World on Stage, the organization that Orchard heads as Emerson College's executive director of the arts, is trying to promote its shows by combining  the buzz-building possibilities of Twitter with the visibility of the Paramount Center's large marquee.

     So ArtsEmerson has begun adding audience tweets to the moving text on the marquee that looms over Washington Street. Since the text that crawls across the marquee is manually programmed, it's simply a matter of choosing three or four tweets per show and typing them in for inclusion in that run of text, according to ArtsEmerson spokesperson Joyce Linehan.

      Here are two recent tweets that made it onto the Paramount marquee, sent by spectators who responded enthusiastically to an acrobatic spectacle titled "PSY'' (which actually played at the Cutler Majestic Theatre, another theater programmed by ArtsEmerson): "Flawless movement and unreal strength crafted into a brilliant story'' and "Beauty + thrill + drama of the human body = PSY, Boston, you must see this!''

    Another tweet lauded a piece of documentary theater titled "In the Footprint: The Battle Over Atlantic Yards,'' which was performed in the Paramount Black Box, as: "Powerful, poignant, inspiring, funny, moving and thought provoking.''

     But for sheer, Twitter-worthy succinctness, it's hard to top the remark I overheard a young woman make as the audience exited a performance of Martin McDonagh's "The Cripple of Inishmaan'' at the Paramount Mainstage last week: "The unhappiest happy ending ever.''

     Perfect. Yet something tells me that if she had tweeted rather than verbalized that summary, it wouldn't have made it onto the  marquee.


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