The United States Civil War was likely the first live-tweeted event. Sure, the tweets were distributed by telegraph and President Abraham Lincoln had to go to a special room to pick them up and send them out but the basic principle was pretty much the same. In small packets of symbols, war events were dispersed live across the nation.

Ninety years later, an award show was first televised into people’s homes.

Things evolve much faster today.

laweekly-awardtrending-blowupJust last year, with the help of (nekkid) Zombies, the LA Weekly Awards became the first live-tweeted theater award show in Los Angeles. In fact, the Los Angeles theater community came together and gave the Internet a pretty good digital shove. The result? The hashtag #LAThtrAwards trended in Los Angeles. And it trended against some stiff competition from both the NCAA basketball finals and something called #boobproblemsnight. (Yes, that’s a real hashtag. Click on that picture to the left.)

Since then, the LA theater community live-tweeted the Hollywood Fringe Festival Awards and, most recently, the Solidarity March to engage the Actors’ Union. That’s how a lot of Angelenos on Twitter first found out about the intimate theater hashtag #Pro99. Because – yep! – it trended. Couldn’t quite beat out #NationalPuppyDay but, y’know: puppies.

150323 hashtag Pro99 3 place 450pxIn just a year’s time, Los Angeles theater has shown real signs of embracing the live-tweet. No longer can someone say “I’ll be there in spirit” for nowadays you can keep right up with the action on your mobile device. In other words, any Angeleno foolish enough to not attend the largest celebration of LA intimate (i.e. #Pro99) theater this Monday evening will still be able to keep up with all the action at the venue – live. I speak, of course, of the very first Stage Raw Awards for Los Angeles Intimate Theater. (Still don’t have your ticket? Go here.)

As I discussed last year, award shows are the LA theater community’s chance to show off to the rest of the world. Particularly that part of the country where the stories first developed right here in Los Angeles are put in the theaters that stand along a way that is broad.

Yes, New York. Los Angeles guides your theater culture. Deal with it.

But more importantly, tweeting from the Stage Raw Awards is a chance to reach out to that 15-year-old girl in Wisconsin who sings Sondheim to her webcam. Or the theater major at the University of Oklahoma who is wondering if working on camera means giving up the stage. Or the surprised couple in Tarzana who find extraordinary staged narratives and performances much closer to home than they ever expected.

For LA’s secret – kept even from many SoCal natives – is that the 99-Seat Plan has spawned a theater art form unique in the country where professionals can voluntarily get together to create world-class and cutting-edge art. The shows in our intimate theaters needn’t first be audience-tested as television or film productions. The professionals in the 99-seat theaters can take real artistic risks. And, for the ongoing creative health of the Los Angeles theater community, it’s time to stop keeping that a secret.

Horton hears a Who yoppIt’s time to celebrate it. It’s time to share that celebration. It’s time, once again, to push #LAThtrAwards to the digitazzi.

So show up to the Stage Raw Awards with smart phones at the ready and be prepared to take selfies and tweet. After all, your tweet might just be the magical YOPP! that punctures the digital veil and releases #LAThtrAwards into the trendosphere. This year, there will be wi-fi access so, regardless of your carrier, you’ll be guaranteed connectivity. In fact, Stage Raw Editor-in-Chief, Steven Leigh Morris, has made tweeting an official part of the award show this year. How official? He’s brought in Tracey Paleo (aka cultural reviewer Gia on the Move) and her team to nurture the digital side of the awards.

The digital side of the awards? Yes, as discussed earlier, things evolve much faster today than before. While it took 90 years to go from live-telegraphing to live-televising, it has only taken a single year to go from live-tweeting to live-streaming. That’s right, Los Angeles theater community:

This year, the Stage Raw Awards will be live-streamed over Twitter to the entire world.

I put that in bold-faced because it’s so important. But I think I’ll write it again:

This year, the Stage Raw Awards will be live-streamed over Twitter to the entire world.

Just like the Oscars and the Emmys and the Tonys and the Grammys, the Stage Raw Intimate Theater Awards will be watchable live. This means that everyone is invited to the party. Everyone! Got friends and family and mentors and past castmates and college professors you’ve always wanted to share your Los Angeles theater experience with?

Now you can.

And if the community continues to tweet and retweet the hashtag #LAThtrAwards, the City’s small theaters may remain intimate but the celebration of them won’t.

So what do you have to do? Easy. Before the day of the show (e.g. right now!):

  1. Follow @StageRaw on Twitter.
  2. Tell your friends everywhere to do the same.
  3. Follow @LAThtrAwards on Twitter.
  4. Tell your friends everywhere to do the same.
  5. Download the Periscope app on your iPhone or iPad. (Instructions about this app are at the end of the article.) Sorry, Android users, this tech is so bleeding edge that the app doesn’t yet exist for your platform. The good news is that this year all real-time, live coverage will be officially reported in text and pictures from the two Twitter accounts @StageRaw and @LAThtrAwards. There’s simply no way to miss any of the action.
  6. Tell your friends everywhere to do the same.
  7. Remember to search for #LAThtrAwards in the Twitter feed. That’s the official tag for the event.

stageraw-selfie-99 450pxOn the day of the show (e.g. Monday, April 13):

  1. Remind all your friends that the show officially starts at 7:30 Pacific Daylight Time – but there may be a few surprises on the Twitter channels before that.
  2. When you arrive to the show, take a selfie, tag it, and announce your arrival to the world. It’s the Twitter version of the red carpet.
  3. Tweet content, retweet others’ content, and don’t be shy about engaging that couple in Tarzana who want to know what this is all about.
  4. Always remember to include #LAThtrAwards in your tweets.
  5. Tune into both @StageRaw and @LAThtrAwards to get official live commentary (and, oh, maybe just a bit of insider knowledge and a lot of banter) about what’s going on inside the venue.
  6. Remember, this is Twitter so you can talk with @StageRaw and @LAThtrAwards also!
  7. And if you are outside the venue, well, you should be inside it. But if you can’t be in downtown Los Angeles that night, do open up the Periscope app on your iPhone or iPad and catch the historic live-stream of the event and the theater celebrities partying and enjoying the show. Don’t forget: you can tweet to anyone you see in the stream and have a real-time conversation with them.

Thanks to Steven Leigh Morris, Stage Raw, and the LA Theatre Center for making this local party go global. Be there, in either analog or digital form, and celebrate Los Angeles’ finest 99-seat theater with the rest of us.

stageraw promo 1 lrg 600px

Stage Raw Awards live-streaming:

  1. Double-check that you are already following @StageRaw on Twitter. This is the Twitter feed that will carry the live-streaming.
  2. Find the Periscope app by going to the website
  3. Download the app.
  4. Periscope will ask for your Twitter account. Give up the info. Make yourself known.
  5. Now go back to your Twitter app and look for tweets from @StageRaw in your feed. If any tweet begins with “LIVE on #Periscope:”, click on the link for the video stream.
  6. And, in fact, @StageRaw will be periodically uploading a video stream between now and showtime so you can test to make sure everything works before Monday night.
  7. Don’t forget to tweet out once you get things working. You’ll have to open a second window on your device to run Twitter but this is the age of multi-tasking after all.
  8. Questions? Tweet to @GiaMedia3 and ask away!


More thoughts about Twitter:
Are You Part of the Digital Revolution?
It Will Take a Village: #LAThtrAwards
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 11, 2015 on Bitter Lemons.