I have been reading a bit about museums lately, and it has created some ideas that could be very useful in theatre as well. Museums are currently developing more flexible content – stuff that can be used in a web 2.0 format to extend the museum experience outside of the walls of the museum and into the homes of the visitors. One technique is using tags that will encode the activities of the visitor when they go to specific exhibits. Their pictures could be taken, or they could do an experiment that they later check up on at home. The museum exhibit is personalized, a website is create which can be further customized, and the visitor can interact with the museum on a much broader basis than just a couple of hours inside the museum itself.
Theatres are making some advances here – the resources below show some blogs that various theatres have created to start to disseminate information in a looser, internet friendly way. But I don’t think it is enough.
The key is user involvement. The blog is nice, but the blog needs to elicit user response and interaction. Think theatre meets MySpace (and some theatres are on myspace). What if a theatre community had a space online where theatres could post show information (rehearsal blogs, construction blogs, etc.) and audiences could post pages about their favorite productions, could comment and ask questions of the artists. Think of it as an extended talk back. An involved community will help the theatre to prosper both in donations and in ticket sales. The internet offers a low cost way to generate a high amount of involvement, that doesn’t inconvenient the staff overly so as they can control how and when content is published.