WWJT? What Would Jesus Tweet?

Kenny Jahng —  2009/04/10 — 2 Comments

Today, Trinity Church in NYC produced and put on the passion play on Good Friday…on Twitter.

For 3 hours, betwen Noon and 3pm characters used www.grouptweet.com to put on the play.  Over 1,500 people followed the group tweet account which allowed them to receive the sporadic messages that were part of the 3-hour passion play. . .

twspassionplayvia @_Peter_of_: is waiting in the courtyard of the High Priest Caiaphas. I ran scared when the officers came but I need to see how this ends.
8 minutes ago from GroupTweet

twspassionplay via @ServingGirl: Darkness and earthquake. I heard the curtain in the temple was torn in two. I wonder…
less than a minute ago from GroupTweet

twspassionplay via @Pontius_Pilate: They want this done by nightfall. I sent my soldiers to break the dead men’s legs. Are my hands clean of this?
less than a minute ago from GroupTweet

twspassionplayvia @ServingGirl: is so tired. Caiaphas and the priests have been up all night questioning a man who claims to be the Messiah. And I wait on them.
8 minutes ago from GroupTweet

twspassionplayvia @_JesusChrist: Let the scriptures be fulfilled. It is as the prophets wrote. I am who you say I am.
1 minute ago from GroupTweet

twspassionplayvia @_Peter_of_: is heartsick. I abandoned him. I denied him. I couldn’t believe it, even as the words came out of my mouth.
about 1 hour ago from GroupTweet

twspassionplay via @Pontius_Pilate: Bad feeling about this. The prisoner won’t talk. The priests accuse him of blasphemy and sedition, and he just stands there, waiting
about 1 hour ago from GroupTweet

twspassionplay via @Mary_Mother_Of: I have no peace, though I have talked with angels, and in my bones I know he is Emmanuel. It rips me to hear the crowds chant “Crucify him!”
about 1 hour ago from GroupTweet

twspassionplay via @Pontius_Pilate: What harm has this man done? Why does the crowd cheer on his murder? I wash my hands of this. They can do what they want
about 1 hour ago from GroupTweet

twspassionplay via @_JesusChrist: Father forgive them, they know not what they do.
39 minutes ago from GroupTweet

twspassionplay via @ServingGirl: This crowd is rough. Talk of his blood on our hands…but if he is really the Messiah God will rescue him.
39 minutes ago from GroupTweet

twspassionplay via @_JesusChrist:It is as the prophets have written: I tell my tale of misery while they look on and gloat.
33 minutes ago from GroupTweet

twspassionplay via @Mary_Mother_Of: The light is going from the sky. I am alone here. Give me strength, God of the Universe.
39 minutes ago from GroupTweet

twspassionplayvia @_JesusChrist: Father into thy hands I commit my spirit.
25 minutes ago from GroupTweet

twspassionplay via @ServingGirl: Darkness and earthquake. I heard the curtain in the temple was torn in two. I wonder…
less than a minute ago from GroupTweet

twspassionplay via @Pontius_Pilate: They want this done by nightfall. I sent my soldiers to break the dead men’s legs. Are my hands clean of this?
less than a minute ago from GroupTweet

twspassionplay via @JosephArimathea: is sleepwalking through this. I cut the tomb, bought the linen, hold his body—and he’s gone.
2 minutes ago from GroupTweet

twspassionplay via @Mary_Mother_Of: I saw the water and the blood. I want to scream with him: Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?
2 minutes ago from GroupTweet

twspassionplay via @Mary_Mother_Of: They sealed his tomb at dusk. The stone stands between us, and I can’t leave. I am an old woman now, lost in the dark.
less than a minute ago from GroupTweet

Right after the play and for hours after, there were praise tweets flowing across the account.  The press picked up the story in a heartbeat.  After reading through the transcript, I’m interested in how you feel about the passion play.

There are a couple of layer that working here.  One is the question if the “actors” chosen really were cast into the right parts.  One random tweet during the play reminded the other cast members to keep it under 140 characters at a time since Twitter truncates the messages otherwise.  This indicated that A) the twactors weren’t in the same location/room since they used tweets to interrupt the play and make it a teachable moment  B) The fact that the twactors weren’t used to keeping it to 140 characters at a time speaks to their own familiarity with the medium.

Next, the question that arises is if this Twitter is the good medium for collaborative real-time drama.  You can read the play script above but in real life, you’d get these messages intermixed with all your other regular tweets during 3 hours.  And don’t forget the 3 hours – most people aren’t sitting in one play for 3 hours on Fridays from Noon to 3pm.  So mostly likely you caught part of the play, didn’t get a chance to finish the play, entered mid-stream, or were doing other things while the play was being put on.

I think Trinity should be applauded for experimenting in order to find new ways of connecting with people inside and outside of their church.  Before they do another one, I hope they have a chance to listen to reactions and evolve the new genre further and further.

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