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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: October 8, 2008 @ 11:33 am

    Standing ovations

    Fiona McCann

    This Theatre Festival, crowds seem fierce apt to leap to their feet after the final curtain in a manner that almost dilutes the power of the standing ovation. At the opening nights of Metamorphosis, The Year of Magical Thinking and Black Watch, only a smattering of curmudgeons (myself included) remained in their seats while the rest were so enraptured they were propelled out of theirs.

    Either I am impossible to please, temporarily paralysed, contary, or, and this is a longshot, I like to reserve a standing ovation for the kind of rare moments when you really are forced out of your seat in an enthusiasm or emotion inspired by the show you’ve just witnessed and not because the person in front of you is blocking your view. Statistically speaking, the latter would seem unlikely to occur three times in a row in any given week. Am I being churlish? Is the standing ovation the new opening night standard? If so, does anyone else find this an irritating trend?

    • Longman Oz says:

      Fiona, I thought the same thing as you when I went to Black Watch. It was a good play that was well performed. I clapped for 2-3 minutes after it ended. However, to have joined in the standing ovation would have devalued its meaning when it comes to recognising the really great performances.

      Twice in the cinema this year alone, I have needed to stop myself from spontaneous clapping my approval at the end of the film. Similarly, if I do not feel the automatic urge to rise to my feet at the end of a play, then that tells me something about what I really thought about it.

      Good luck with the blog. Great to see another arts one on the go.

    • Fiona says:

      Thank you Longman. In the meantime, next time you feel compelled to clap at the end of a film, I say go right ahead.

    • JC says:

      I agree. I was thinking that Irish audiences were impressively judicious with their Standing O’s; then had to sit through a string of rather automatic-seeming ones. One suspects -— okay, I suspect — that the ovation for Ms. Redgrave had more to to do with her celebrity than her performance. I gave two performances this past week a lean-forward-and-clap-until-pinkies-go-numb, but have yet to leap to my feet. The danger is a Zimbabwe-style devaluation that will eventually have audiences on their feet for the please-silence-your-mobile-phones announcement.

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