Has the standing ovation lost its value?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Certain things lose their meaning when used too much.

A comeback tour is only significant the first time, then it reverts to being just another string of concerts. Best of show means one piece stood above the rest in the gallery, not "this painting deserves the same amount of recognition as the ones on either side of it."

Praise is good, yes, but only when something warrants it, not every time a curtain falls. I always dread the bows after a theater production, especially one with which I was not thoroughly impressed.

I can find good things to say about parts of most shows, plays and concerts I see, and I admire the courage actors and musicians have to get up there in the first place. I'll let drop the awkward pause in a few scenes or a band playing one or two mediocre choices as long as the rest of the show delivered. I'm a firm believer, however, that the elements should be 94 percent impressive to warrant a standing ovation.

It was a coveted response from the audience, the standing ovation, and as such should be issued only when truly earned. It has, however, become much too commonplace. Instead of an emotional and inspiring performance stirring the audience out of their seats, all that need happen for a standing ovation to occur is for a small, concentrated group of people to stand up. The people around them stand because they don't want to look disrespectful, and like the wave at a football game, the rest of the patrons rise to their feet.

As a result, I'm usually the jerk in row F clapping heartily, but still sitting in my assigned seat. I think a standing ovation is a precious thing and should be enjoyed by a performer, but how meaningful is it when the performer knows the audience stood for the juggling monkey in the opening act?

I need to be moved during a show to move to my feet after it.

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