Friday, January 22, 2010

Ignorance in Perpetuity


Sometime very soon, I'll post a full blog about my opinions of Spring Awakening, which I saw for the first time last night. I can say honestly that it was one of the more profound theatre-going experiences I've had. Hold that thought, though.

People left at intermission.

I have some issues with this. Allow me to expand...

Excluding illness or emergency, I don't understand how any person can leave any show. Ever. I recognize that not every show is everyone's bag. That is fine. That is understandable. I've sat through a whole lot of shows that I didn't particularly enjoy. What I don't understand is having enough disregard for art and the artist that you can't at least have the courtesy to view the whole work.

This is different for movies and books and television. It's even different for art like photography or painting or other "gallery" type art. Those pieces don't have the one thing that makes live theatre unique... the fact of it being LIVE. The artists are there, creating in person. They see you leave. They see the tears and emotions of the audience. The book is already printed. The television show has already been filmed. There's always the chance of picking it up the book again when you feel better prepared, or Netflixing the movie if you change your mind. The beauty of a play is that it's fleeting. It's never exactly the same. You may see another production of Spring Awakening some time in the future, but it will never have the exact same resonance as it would in that moment. It's a one-off.

And yes... that's a concept that is vaguely esoteric and possibly not everyone's cup of tea, so let me break it down for you in a simpler way.

These people on the stage, whether it's a show like Spring Awakening or a show like Barefoot in the Park... these people are sweating for your entertainment. These people are working hard, doing their jobs, to create art. Much like you go to a mechanic and let them finish working on your car before you drive off the lot, you owe it to yourself to allow these people to complete their job before you evaluate the value of their work.

I personally would not PAY to see Mamma Mia. I just don't think it's that interesting, and I don't think it's that fun... but I know that were I to go see it, I'd be there til the end. The people on the stage are owed that tiny modicum of courtesy. That's really all it comes down to. Respect.

There's another factor at play here, though, and it bothers me far more than the public's general lack of respect.

I know of people who left just because the play and subject matter were "darker" than they expected. There are a couple of things wrong with this, as far as I'm concerned....

1) My understanding is that all season ticket holders were notified prior to purchasing tickets for this show that it was of an adult nature, and included dark subject matter. They were even given the opportunity to purchase a package without this show in it.

2) Even if they somehow missed the notification, there were all of the following signs that this show may not be Legally Blonde-esque:
a) The poster looks like this: Note the teenagers being all sexual and whatnot. Note the decided lack of frilly colors and text. Red and black doesn't exactly indicate a freewheeling ride through the flowers. Let's look at the Legally Blonde poster for counter reference:

Note the Reese Witherspoon lookalike. Note the cute little puppy. Note the smile. These things are not accidents.
B) If you missed the notice and the poster, you also had giant signs in the lobby with MORE WARNINGS. Adult themes. Adult Language. Sexual Content. Partial Nudity.
C) If you missed all of those things, the fucking shirts they were selling in the lobby literally said the words "You're Fucked" on the back.

I mean... come on people.

And so the fuck what? Are you saying that you literally can't sit through a musical that isn't the toe-tapping, rollicking good time that is Singin' in the Rain? You're so vapid and unable to feel any sort of emotion aside from "Giggle giggle" that you won't even allow yourself to be challenged.

On the way out, I heard a man say "I didn't like that play. It was different."

I'm dead serious. Like... his only reason that he didn't like it was that it wasn't just like fucking Oklahoma, which (excuse me for saying so) is pretty fucking disturbing in its own right. Judd is KILLED. There are fires and attempted rapes. It wasn't the feel-good hit of 1952 everyone has glossed t. I mean... West Side Story is about a gang war and murder. Carousel is about robbery and murder and morality. It's possible that Spring Awakening is a bit more overt in its telling, but it's no darker than The Who's Tommy (drugs, sex, child molestation) or Ragtime (murder, sex, racism, terrorism, child slavery) or Les Mis (Prostitution, murder, theft, identity fraud, war, grave robbery) or Rent (Prostitution, homosexuality, drugs, sex).

I wonder if it would have been more palatable to the elitist, ignorant snobs who essentially discarded this as a bunch of Gen Y Tripe if they'd realized that it was based on a German book written in 1891. Would that give it more resonance with the over washed masses? With the delicate, over-shielded philistines that just simply couldn't watch this "dark" show.

I really could go on all day about it, but I want to get to post about the show itself, and not about how I don't understand the mentality of these dickfaces who spend the money to sit in the front, but don't have a single inkling that what they're seeing might be more than just the status of their ticket stub. What's the old saying?

You can put a pig in a dress, but it's still just a fucking pig.

The only solace I can take away from the whole business is that there is a great irony hidden here, in this particular case...

The theme of Spring Awakening is that you can't hide from the dirty parts of life, because they're there whether you acknowledge them or not.

The people who left the show were doing exactly that. Hiding from the dirty parts.

1 comment:

Abbey said...

Here, here. On the nose, Daniel...