Flash Mob Theater?

A vintage photo of Columbia University's Low Library, site for the proposed April 8 flash mob that may just be a prank by Columbia's Theater Arts program.

As I write this post at one in the morning, there are 36 hours to go before Columbia University hosts a flash mob at Low Library, according to Everything Listens, a Word Press blog site. Everything Listens is encouraging all comers to converge and “reclaim Low Memorial Library for Columbia University’s first flash mob” on April 8. Participants are instructed to bring a book and a pre-downloaded podcast (nine minutes of ambient-seeming noise) on their i-pods, and await further instructions.

This plan has the appearance of an academic political movement. However, it also smacks of the misleading tones that are often employed by locally famous pranksters, Improv Everywhere, the NYC group who hosts an annual no-pants subway ride in which participants are recruited online to ride the rails together in boxers or briefs.

Improv Everywhere is also infamous for pranking its no-pants participants and list-serve lurkers after the ride, with April 1 announcements about participant arrests, etc.–announcements that are always debunked on April 2 with a mass e-mail announcing their April fools.

That’s why I was was suspicious when I went to check out the Everything Listens “Listen to Low” podcast, and found that the downloadable file is attributed to “R6050 Theatre Arts.” A little digging turned up the fact that R6050 is the class call-number for a Multi-Arts Incubator in Columbia’s Theater Program MFA division.

Is Columbia using social media to recruit participants for a multimedia prank to be pulled off by its Theater department? It would seem so, but the only way to find out for sure it to go uptown April 8 at 1:00 and see for yourself.


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