Standing Ovation Theatre – No

When going to see a film in a movie theatre, the credits scroll at the end of the film and, nowadays, the first thing most people do is look at their cell phone to see if they missed any calls. Then, grab their coats, if they are polite, throw away their trash, and head out the door. Although, there are always some stragglers, chatting with friends about where to get drinks, but the bottom line is they have no need to show approval of what they saw. No one in the theatre is responsible for it, so why clap or cheer? On the other hand, when going to see a play, the actors take their bow at the end, the audience will (hopefully) clap, showing their appreciation to the actor’s work. A standing ovation is a way to show that the piece was especially moving, that there was such a strong connection that is brings someone to their feet. It is a strong statement, going beyond the appreciation for the work of the actor, and acknowledging that it was emotionally, and literally, moving.

For an actor, if they recieve a standing ovation one night, and the next the audience claps as if they are watching a golf tournament, the actor needs to evaluate why. Maybe they can remember the differences between the two performance and make improvements. Feedback is always a good thing. Considering that theatre is live, every performance is different. Even if they are similar, no two performances are ever the same. When an actor finishes a show, they have the chance to do it a little better the next time (That is until the close of the run). For some audience members, it may not be quite that deep. Perhaps they are just being polite. They are after all, going to be standing up to leave the theatre any ways. Why not give a self esteem boost to this person they have just watched for 2 hours? It seems, though, to be more important than that, depending on which side of the stage you are on. For the actor, it is about recognition that they are good at what they do. They rehearse for weeks trying to perfect what they will present to the audience member. And for what? Really it is only that they want to entertain. Make people laugh, or cry, or both, just make them feel something. That is the way an actor becomes an master of his craft: To make the audience feel something strong, and real.

If people stop standing, stop clapping, or some how showing approval, how will the actor know if they did a good job? “Ms. Streisand, they didn’t throw anything at your face tonight. I think they enjoyed it!” People, we, as a society, need to let ourselves become even more lost in the world of theatre. A cell phone lighting up, unwrapping candy, chatting to the person next to you, these are actions that are highly overused in a theatre. But standing ovations are a part of the experience of live theatre, and it is underused, if it’s incorrectly used at all.