Sunday, November 13, 2005

‘Great Portland Rolling Ovation’

The Oregonian/Oregon.Live
November 13, 2005

The Oregonian’s Bob Hicks describes Portland’s perhaps too common, half-hearted, if you stand up, I guess I have to stand up, too ovation. “Nothing to fret about … harmless local twitch … it makes the performers feel good.” Usually makes me feel stooge or Scrooge. defunkt’s right about curtain calls.

15 comments:

David said...

Good comment! But I'll tell you, standing-ovation-itis has long plagued NYC, too, though there is a greater tug of war in the audience between those who are trying to hang onto their souls by remaining in their seats and those who are just happy not to be watching television.

I hadn't gotten the point of Defunkt's stance on curtain calls, but I get it now.

Stacy said...

50 word increments! Interesting blog idea... will come back soon. ;)

Julie S. said...

My mother-in-law once referred to me as a "Scrooge" because I refuse to jump out of my seat when everyone else is standing. I laughed out loud while reading Mr. Hick's piece.

Anonymous said...

My wife read Hicks's piece aloud to me, because she has repeatedly seen me remain solidly in my seat through many Portland standing O's. I applaud wildly and long, sometimes longer than the rest of the audience when I feel the performance deserves it, but I'm very grudging about standing, whether or not I can see anything at that point.

Back in the late 1980s, the Oregonian's classical music critic, David Staebler, had a fine opinion essay on the same subject with regard to concerts in town. The phrase I will never forget was that standing ovations should go only to performances that, among other things, "replace the ozone layer."

Anonymous said...

Does a half-baked standing ovation really make performers feel good? Or is it kind of embarrassing?

Dan Ruiz said...

I have to be honest. As a performer, I don't care if you stand for me or not. I know an appreciative audience far before curtain call. A responsive, interactive crowd is the best reward and far better than any applause.

I think curtain call is much more important to the audience than it is to the actor. It's their opportunity to say thank you, and they really need it to feel like it's a complete experience. But for me as an actor, it's not all that necessary. Just coming to our show and being a good audience is thanks enough, really.

If you have to stand, don't do it unless we earned it, because we honestly know when we've earned it. It's instinctual for performers to recognize when they've really nailed it, and if you stand out of politeness any other time, it's just patronizing.

Anonymous said...

Most theatre folk can tell the difference between a rolling stand and an explosive stand, just as they can tell when the audience is with them or just coasting. Seated applause is just great. A rolling ovation is a nice gesture. An explosive stand is pure adrenaline.

Dead silence before explosive applause is the best of all.

jeff said...

From a performance side, I think Dan nailed it. What an audience does during the show is more important to me than how they respond at the end.

From an audience point of view, I hate that I am basicly forced into a standing O so I can see the actors at the end, and if I choose not to, I'm vilified. Granted, if the O is earned, great! I'm not quite sold on Defunkt's policy, but this topic is a good reminder of why a lot of people seem to like it.

Anonymous said...

To add to my comments above about resolutely remaining seated and Staebler's long-ago column, I've seen only a few theater shows in Portland that really deserved a standing O. I doubt I've ever been IN one, but a few audiences have granted them. I can't say I feel either patronized or artificially pleased; as Dan says, we know, and if people stand, I feel it's just kind of beside the point for me as a performer . . . they're probably feeling good in general, and standing makes them feel even a little better. I remember and treasure far more the moments during the performance when something cool or unforeseen or lovely happened and we could FEEL it.

Martha said...

A related grimace: the too-long staged curtain call ... bringing out nearly everyone one at a time ... then taking one too many group bows forcing the clapping to continue and face haplessley as people are still on stage ..... ouch. A well-appointed company might have a trained usher start audiences clapping and a trained prinicple actor lead the company in short or extended curtain calls. It's a minor detail, but how many times have I sat through awkward pauses, knowing -- and wanting -- to clap, but afraid to be the awkward first one ... or left sitting, clapping and clapping, barely making noise, as curtain calls bow left, right, center, reverse, pirouette, and such for an audience of 15. Just as performers can take their cues from an audience during a show, so too should you be able to during a simple little curtain call. Again -- totally minor detail -- who really cares -- but if you want to be thorough .... it's icing on the cake to make a clean finish.

David said...

One funny sight was the curtain call we did for Glengarry Glen Ross, a couple years ago. Man, it was a tight show (which I mostly watched, as the new guy in the bit part, from the best seat in the house, onstage.) These actors spun on a dime and snapped up cues and in general showed how Mamet's done. But, the curtain call! In the tiny Magdelane Theater space, we shuffled and bowed in no discernable order or rhythm. It was like Monty Python's philosophers trying to play football. What a hoot! All very, "hey kid's, we've just put on a show!" It's was quite lovely, in retrospect.

Anonymous said...

I'm always suspicious of standing ovations. You KNOW some of those people are just trying to get their coats out from under their butts so they can get to their cars quicker.
I miss people throwing roses at the stage (or vegitables for that matter) Whatever happened with that?

Follow Spot said...

I know curtain calls are often the very last thing anyone bothers to work on -- I mean, why give up precious rehearsal time, right? -- but I do believe curtain calls could be more tailored to the show, and, in that manner, respond to one of james' viewpoints (correct me if I'm wrong, james), that there are times when the very last moment just needs to hang a little before it gets broken by reality ... or, alternatively, there are times when, usually in a musical, the end just can't stop, and it simply must explode into a full-on curtain call ... and there are times when, just after that little sigh you give upon resolution of a sweet little story, that you just want the person behind the character -- not the actor professional -- to simply walk back on and acknolwedge that something special was just shared. However it's done, the point is that it respects the conclusion of the event rather than trying to top it off, fulfill an obligation or be something other than what it is -- an acknowledgement.

OK, now I'm rambling a little off-topic when I should be working ....

james said...

if an audience is given a curtain call, rehearsal time should be devoted to it. after all, it's a part of what the audience paid for.

and curtain calls are a delicate thing: if it comes too soon, or goes too long, it can really mar what transpired before.

hm...

Nate said...

Any curtain call should take a MAXIMUM of five minutes to block; anything more is self-indulgent. Just like semi-colons. Or sentences that aren't sentences.

But seriously, clapping after a show is like wearing pants. I'll explain. When I am taking a bow, I don't know if these a-holes are clapping because they enjoyed the show - or if they are clapping because "society" says they must. Some people wear pants because they enjoy them. Some because "society" says they must. I am not ashamed to say I fall in the category of the latter. Pants-wise.

Or is it tradition? Did some neanderthal bang his hairy fists together after the recitation of that night's hunting and gathering? (You Creationists can place "Adam" in the place of "some neanderthal.")

Oh! The boss left... I'm sneaking out. To be continued...