Theatre people hug. We get kidded about it a lot.
Recently, I ran into a stage manager I hadn’t seen for years. Our hello hug was a prolonged, emotional, jumping-up-and-down-squeeze, sort of like Hillary and Tipper at the 1992 Democratic convention. Our shared history returned in an instant as we laughed, cried and reminisced about toiling “in the trenches” on a new play that died too young, and a theatre family that disbanded too soon. We made a date for lunch. Anyone who witnessed our greeting on the street might have concluded that we were long lost sisters.
Last week I had an Ah-Ha moment at a Tweet-Up* here in NYC. (*Tweet-Up: A gathering of people who follow each other on Twitter, meeting in person, often for the first time.) It is the third such event I’ve attended in as many months, and I simply love them. One Twitter pal after another shared their discovery that “…there is a person at the end of each tweet”, and with childlike wonder described their in-person meetings: “We hugged each other!” The virtual had become a reality; the theoretical had become personal. The “hug culture” was so new and exciting for them, and we take it for granted in the theatre; it’s an everyday occurrence for us.
Many of the early adopters of Twitter are self-described geeks; brainy kids, inevitably the last ones to be chosen for sports teams. Their thrill has always been using technology to communicate, not sports or academia. Likewise, those of us in the theatre were not usually the captains of soccer or basketball teams. We discovered a primal form of communication through our school plays.
Twitter and other forms of social media provide a natural alliance between technology and art. My mind reels at all the ways we can help each other navigate this new terrain as we explore its possibilities.
The hug is just the beginning of what could be – please forgive me, Malcolm Gladwell – a “Twipping Point”. I can’t wait! What about you?