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Returning to the theater after a pandemic-induced hiatus was something he wanted to lift and cheer for, until the end of the performance, when all he wanted was the right to remain seated. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that the Covid-19 disruption had done nothing to stop the wild proliferation of the standing ovation. As construction reopens for the fall season, I hope others will join me in facing social pressure by staying seated.

Throughout my life, the cultural norm for standing ovations has gone from rare to common, making it difficult to recognize a real masterpiece.

Throughout my life, the cultural norm of standing ovations has been gone. from rare to common, which makes it difficult to recognize a real masterpiece. The now ever-present standing ovation seems to be part of the performance rather than a sign of appreciation for her. Has there ever been a single “Hamilton” show that hasn’t received a standing ovation? At the performance I went to in Chicago, we were on our feet when the last note hit. It was a good performance, but not great.

In fact, it often feels like the standing ovation is anticipated before the first line is spoken or the first note is sung. Perhaps it is the high ticket prices that create a self-fulfilling prophecy; a performance has to be great to justify spending a week’s pay on a night out. Maybe it’s just a better selfie if you’re standing at the end of a performance. Or is it done thoughtlessly because representations can be mounted in such a way as to manipulate this response. It is also possible that this phenomenon is an extension of the “everybody gets a trophy” culture. And if today’s audience grew up knowing only standing ovations, then this behavior may seem just as appropriate to them as knowing not to. clapping between movements in the symphony feels like my generation. .

Whatever the cause, it creates another problem: the bis prop. Rarely is an encore felt spontaneously these days. Instead, it is often planned as part of the program. At a classical concert I attended recently, the soloist left his violin behind the scenes during his bow as a clear signal that there would be no encore despite the demands of the audience. As we left the theater, I heard grunts of disappointment that I hadn’t agreed to the request for more. We don’t expect every sporting event to end in overtime in exchange for giving teams a standing ovation, so I’m not sure where this sense of entitlement for the performing arts comes from.

I am aware that by sitting still it may appear that I am making a statement of disgust or disappointment. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that I didn’t enjoy the performance or that it didn’t seem well done. It just didn’t match my personal criteria for a standing ovation: an unforgettable experience of the highest caliber. I worry that my behavior seems snobbish or ungrateful, maybe even dare to say old-fashioned.

But in my (perhaps old-fashioned) point of view, the unexpected is part of the mystique of live performance. I’d rather let the performance move me than know from the start that a standing ovation is expected. And I am concerned about how this affects the artists themselves. How does audience response affect your self-assessment? Do they appreciate knowing they’ll get a standing ovation from the get-go, or is the audience considered less demanding? Are artists less motivated to perform? Would the lack of a standing ovation serve as a wake-up call that the performance is failing, or would it just be dismissed as commentary on the audience?

When I traveled to London in February 2020, moments before the pandemic put us all in front of our screens every night, I was hopeful that the post-performance ritualistic exuberance hadn’t crossed the pond. But at the first performance I saw there, a heartfelt production of the musical “The Prince of Egypt,” the crowd rose to its feet as the last chord ended. Reluctantly, I joined in so I could watch the final bows, which were choreographed as part of the show.

Two nights later, however, I unexpectedly found myself surrounded by a theater full of people who, like me, were sitting at the end of a show. I was in one of the first performances of “” by Tom Stoppard.Leopoldstadt”, based on the experience of the British playwright’s family in Vienna from 1899 to 1955. The play ended suddenly, the stage went dark, and the audience, stunned by the power of the play, fell silent for several seconds. Then, as the weight of the experience sank in, hands began to clap, tears dried, and the actors took their bows. The audience filed out in silence as we tried to regain our bearings.

Ironically, the absence of a standing ovation that night added to how memorable the event was. Because the content of the work is sober and dark, such a gesture would have felt celebratory and in poor taste. On the way back to my hotel, I wanted to tell everyone I saw on the subway to go check it out. But above all, he wanted to reassure the actors. “You guys were great,” he wanted to tell them. “Please understand that it was your forceful performance that kept us in our seats.”

When I saw a recent advertisement for the inauguration of “Leopoldstadt” in New York in early September, it gave me hope that maybe Broadway was importing a more discriminatory approach to appreciating a performance. Until then, I’m still in audience purgatory.

From Broadway to the Symphony, now it seems standing ovations are required – media drift

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