I'm originally from NYC and moved to Madison last year. I was delighted to find a thriving arts community with a huge selection of classical music organizations. One thing that has been bothering me is the need for this community to give every performance a standing ovation. I reserve a standing ovation for the truly spectacular productions. When I don't stand, other patrons stare daggers at me. Do I give in to not feel so uncomfortable? Am I being that much of a snob?
Taking a Knee
Ah yes... The automatic "Standing O."
It is hard to figure out why modern audiences feel the need to stand and clap for nearly every staged music or theater performance.
Here are a few non-scientific theories of mine:
Audiences tend to follow what everyone else is doing when it comes to live performance. Standing is a way of indicating "they get it" by enthusiastically clapping as they stretch their legs.
Our culture rewards people for simply doing their job. Like leaving a 20% tip for the host/hostess who forgets to take your order. They got dressed and came to work. BRAVO!
We feel obligated. Like going to church on a holy day, it is something that is important and must be done. There will be ramifications if we don't fall in line, such as staring daggers.
But this Maestro would prefer you boo over a Standing O that is not genuine. At least I would know you were truly moved, albeit negatively, by my actions.
Standing O's should be left for Standing O quality performances, which in my opinion are rare. So I champion your instinct to sit! Do not stand for mediocrity! You are not a snob! Don't give fake praise! That is the worst thing you could ever do for a performer!
And I won't stand for it!