It’s pretty obvious from even a cursory glance of my Facebook feed that arty, creative people make pretty good activists. They are passionate about the cause, think about community, and believe they can effect change. Environmental issues, animal protections, gay rights… there are so many topics that need tending and I’ve seen people from the LA theater community involved in all of them.

Permit me to throw one more cause onto the list: LA theater.

Consider, for example, what I lifted from the website where you can buy your $15 tickets to the LA Weekly 35th Annual Theater Awards:

This year’s Queen of the Angels Award, honoring contributions to the theater community, goes to Deborah Behrens, editor of L.A. Stage Times, which just suspended publication.

Talk about your basic mixed message.

As I discussed on LA LA Land Talk and written about here and here, massive live-tweeting of the LA Weekly Theater Awards, using the hashtag #LAThtrAwards, has significant potential for increasing awareness of LA theater.

The modest goals are:

1) To have the hashtag #LAThtrAwards trend worldwide. This is doable – it took only 100 people at a NASA event to make something similar happen! Getting LA theater on the front page of Twitter will attract attention from those who don’t even know there’s a party going on!

2) To have people follow any and all Twitter accounts associated with LA theater. This includes personal accounts like those of actors, directors and stage managers, as well as professional accounts like those of theater companies and theater news sites. Every subscription gained that night will be a chance to grab mindshare moving forward.

3) To start turning LA theater actors and companies into recognizable brand names. This turns the actors into celebrities and the theaters into destinations. The idea of seeing a celebrity up close in an intimate 99-seat theater – something that is rather unique to LA stages – is a powerful draw for the public.

To accomplish this – to rule Twitter for a few minutes – will take the efforts of the entire LA theater community. The more people involved and the harder they work, the more sustainable the hijacking of the Twitter front page becomes.

Think of us as the Whos in Whoville shouting “WE ARE HERE!”

We will need every last one of us to “YOPP!”

Horton hears a Who yopp

So, how to accomplish this?

Preparation before the event:

  • Get a Twitter account. Learn how to use it. Follow other LA theater accounts.
  • Let your colleagues, friends, and family know about the show – and make sure they have Twitter accounts. Though outside the venue, they will also be participating on the night of the show by retweeting and engaging with those inside the venue. How cool to have your theater colleagues in Chicago and New York take part in this event? Even if you are unable to tweet that night, you can still get the word out through the usual activist way: Facebook.
  • If you’re a nominee this year (or associated with a nominee in any way), everything in the previous two bullets goes double!
  • Many people in LA theater either have Twitter accounts with over 10,000 followers or know someone who does. Hit these folks up now to retweet at least a few times during the evening. Just imagine the nonlinear amplification of those retweets to a large, built-in fan base.

Easy, right? Now here is what to do during the show:

If you are inside the venue:

  • When you tweet, include the name of the show

@LAWeekly #LAThtrAwards

inside the tweet. For example: “@ZombieJoes is hosting the 2014 @LAWeekly #LAThtrAwards” which practically makes an English sentence. Remember, the goal is to get #LAThtrAwards to appear on the Twitter homepage – so be sure to include it in every tweet, including the tweets with pictures.

  • Tweet away! Anything and everything is fair game. People love pictures, so tweet pictures! Pictures could be anywhere: the podium, the parking lot, the bar, the bathroom. Yes, I’ve done the latter and, yes, it was theater-related. The more people who tweet, the less any one person has to. It is very easy to pop off 10-20 tweets or more in the course of a couple of hours, especially when many of them will be pictures. By all means promote yourself and your theater company, just make sure to include the magic hashtag.
  • Read the other tweets by searching for the hashtag #LAThtrAwards.
  • Retweet anything remotely fun and exciting that contains the hashtag #LAThtrAwards. This is very simple to do and takes only seconds. Cross-promote (i.e. retweet) your friends as well as yourself for we are all Whos in Whoville.
  • Engage and comment on other’s tweets. Especially look for people outside the venue. Imagine if, when you were in high school, a professional Los Angeles theater actor publicly responded to one of your tweets. What would your reaction have been?

If you are not inside the venue:

  • Pretty much the same as if you were inside. Sure, you can’t post pictures from inside the event but you can still interact with those who do.
  • Retweet like mad. With an Internet full of LA’s finest artists, there will be plenty to choose from. It doesn’t take much effort and will help continue to push #LAThtrAwards over the course of the evening.

So there you have it. A little crowdsourcing project without Kickstarter or IndieGoGo. A little activism for a community in which you are already a member. A little promotion, not for your project but for your peers.

When it comes to outreach, it will take a Village. Filled with Whos. See you online Monday, April 7, 2014 at 6:30 pm?



More thoughts about Twitter:
Rockin’ Stage Raw Awards (Tweet, Tweet, Tweet)
Are You Part of the Digital Revolution?
A Call to Action: Using #LAThtrAwards to promote #LAThtr
No Live Tweeting? That’s Failure to Communicate
So Where’s Your Digital Barbaric YAWP on Twitter?

Originally published April 2, 2014 in Bitter Lemons.