Thursday, October 27, 2011

Theater Fans are Citizen Journalists too

Memphis on Broadway's new leading actor,
Adam Pascal,  gives a sneak peek of his take on
 "Memphis Lives In Me," the show's anthem,
before the press and theater fans; photo by
Oliver Oliveros
New York, October 27, 2011 – Everyone at Shubert Theater is abuzz these days: Memphis, the 2010 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, whose main story revolves around an interracial love affair between a white radio DJ and a black songstress in the ‘50s, has been celebrating its second year on Broadway and has welcomed its newest leading actor, former Rent star Adam Pascal.

Prior to Pascal’s opening night at Memphis just last Tuesday, the show’s creators, Bon Jovi songwriter and band member David Bryan and American playwright Joe DiPietro, hosted a sneak peek that had allowed both the mainstream entertainment press and a select group of theater fans to simultaneously click away with their recording devices: HD camcorders, flip cams, DSLRs, iPhone cameras, and what have you, while Pascal and the rest of the Company performed two musical numbers from the show, “The Music of My Soul” and “Memphis Lives in Me."

Also at the sneak peek, Memphis’ staff was encouraging its invited fans to take as many non-flash photos and videos as possible, and to get the word out (like what citizen journalists would do normally) via Twitter, Tumblr, Wordpress, and Blogger, among others. On the other hand, the press representative from Hartman Group, one of the leading theater-oriented public relations agencies based in New York, was managing the mainstream entertainment press' photo and video coverage logistics and one-on-one interview requests. Attending that event wearing two hats, a Memphis fan, and, at the same time, a representative from BroadwayWorld.com, I saw how its unconventional news coverage setup had worked perfectly for both the traditional press corps and the enthusiastic theater fans-turned-citizen journalists for that day.

Although digital citizen journalism, in general, has been more prevalent among American sports fans compared with theater fans, for example, the fans providing content at www.bleacherreport.com, the 4th largest sports media web site in the United States formed by "four lifelong fans who had consumed more than their fill of bland Internet sports content [c/o the mainstream media]," a budding theater citizen journalist can learn a thing or two from these overzealous sports fans-turned-sports scribes who:

• Write with a distinctive voice;
• Network with other citizen journalists; and
• Engage in intelligent conversations on topics surrounding their interests.
(I've to add, write, write, and write: writing is a skill set; ergo, it can be learned.)

Like these sports fanatics, theater fans as citizen journalists are certainly seen as a welcome addition to the continuously evolving media landscape. In the social mediasphere, mind you, the citizen journalist’s empowered, distinctive voice could match up with anybody, even the likes of veteran theater journalists Ben Brantley of The New York Times, Michael Riedel of The New York Post, or Peter Filichia of www.theatermania.com. Veritably, social media gives everyone a platform. Whether you're a newbie or an already seasoned citizen journalist, you can use social media's various platforms creatively and responsibly.

So, in support of our friends at Memphis, I'd also like to encourage you to start conversing and engaging others: be a theater fan (a Memphis fan too) and a citizen journalist; and spread some Broadway love!

Hockadoo!

Oliver Oliveros is regional site editor, author, and photographer at BroadwayWorld.com — an online news portal covering theater, live entertainment, Broadway shows, and Broadway tickets.