Ken Davenport recently talked about how he enjoyed Broadway shows much more when he was younger. Part of the reason he has a harder time now is because he analyzes the show with the eye of a producer. The other reason is because when he was younger, he was often ignorant about disparaging news about a show in the absence of social media and websites and thus approached each show without any bias.
I am much the same way. I can’t attend a show at a place I have worked earlier because I feel left out of the social interactions and behind the scenes activity that I was once an initiate of. I also have difficulty watching a show that I have contracted in because I want to be backstage checking things out.
As Davenport says “As a theater pro, I know I’m enjoying a show when I’m not thinking about what went in to making it.” In my case, it is a question of whether the show is of sufficient quality and interest to me that I want to sit in the audience for the whole show rather than watching from the wings or attending to various details.
I was wondering if other arts people out there had a similar experience to Ken Davenport and my own.
I don’t have any problem attending and watching the entire performance I don’t feel personally invested in. But there are other complications that have resulted from my training.
Attending shows first became a chore when I had to write a critique of it from some perspective. With the onus of either taking notes or trying to remember what went on, the shows weren’t as enjoyable any more.
Today, without that responsibility, it is easier to enjoy a performance. Except, now I dread being asked what I thought of the show as soon as the curtain comes down. I usually beat a quick path to the door so that I can have the time to digest what I have seen without being pressured to respond.
Often I know there was something I didn’t like about the show, but it can be difficult to pin down what it is exactly in the moments after the performance.
Then there is the issue of knowing the show wasn’t great quality and watching everyone else fly to their feet to give a standing ovation. It is times like this that I wonder if it is better to have a discerning, critical eye and know the show barely deserves enthusiastic seated applause, much less a hair trigger standing ovation or would I be happier having not developed that skill so I could just sit there and enjoy the show without reservation.
It is something of a two edged sword since the same skill will reveal delightful, intriguing choices that deepen your appreciation of artists’ work.
Some of this is unavoidable and just the cost of growing up and experiencing the world. My high school science teachers removed some of the magic from my childhood by explaining the reality, but later that same knowledge was the basis of a different sort of awe about the world.
So does anyone else face issues like this? Do you have similar circumstances where you can enjoy yourself and then others that require a degree of self-restraint?