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Offering a fresh way of helping you keep up with art and entertainment happenings around the Capital District.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

standing ovations

There is a tradition that says critics shouldn't take part in a standing ovation. That has to do with the idea of not tipping your hand about the review. If you are always seated no one knows if you like the show or not.

Sometimes tradition can be a good thing. If there is anything more overdone in theater than the standing ovation I don't know what it is. I once told a friend the performance was so bad the show didn't even get a standing ovation. In other words the tribute has become so banal it is almost meaningless.

Certainly there are times when a standing ovation is appropriate. I recently saw "Sarah Ruhle's Passion Play" in Brooklyn and could not stay seated as the superb cast took their bows. Wish the playwright was there so I could have stood for her too. (It was OK, I wasn't reviewing.)

I'm sort of sorry that as a country we are too polite to boo as are the Italians and other European audiences. If you can stand and shout, why can't I jeer? I do draw the line at throwing things.

People ask me how do you show that you truly appreciate a performance? By clapping louder. Trust me, a performer knows the sound of genuine applause. They also fear the sound of one hand clapping. You not only shouldn't give standing ovations, you should modulate your applause to signal dissatisfaction with a performance. There is nothing worse than a bad actor defending a lazy performance by saying "The audience loved it."

To put it in perspective, when is the last time you gave a server in a restaurant a standing ovation? A big tip shows pleasure with service, a low tip shows dissatisfaction. Since most waiters are unemployed actors you should treat them the same way when they are on stage.


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