Monday, March 2, 2009

We'd Rather You Didn't...

An occasional series in which your Redheads relay horrifying things they’ve seen, heard, and (gasp) even done on stage that they’d rather not experience again.

Wendy Lane: The first thing that springs to mind is the singer who said before every song in her set “the next song I’m going to try to do for you is…” This led to a whole string of emotions beginning with Curiosity: Why was she going to try? Might she be suddenly sucked into the piano by a force beyond her control? This was followed by Irritation: I made the effort to come and see her and now she’s not sure she’ll be able to do the job? Which led me ultimately to worry: What can I, a simple audience member, do to help her if she is unable to continue? It was a most uncomfortable performance for those on stage and those in the audience. To quote that great musical sage Yoda “do, or do not. There is no try”.

Laurel: Sometimes performers may forget a line or a lyric; the major difference between seasoned professionals and the inexperienced is that the pros aren't thrown off the horse when this happens. After all, whatever do you think seasoned them in the first place? That's right: messing up in front of an audience. The pros don’t lose their rhythm. They keep going. If the mistake is so bad, so very very bad that there is no moving forward, they "pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and start all over again". They do not blame anyone. They do not allow the audience to feel uncomfortable for one second. And they go on to have a good time, because they already know they are human.

The inexperienced don't. It has come as a terrible shock. And so they freeze. Or blame the band.

Or cry. Or blame the lighting person. Or melt in to a puddle like the Wicked Witch of the West. All of which make the audience have to worry about the performer. This worry is not part of the audience's job description. THEIR job is to have a god time. Period.

The performer's job is to allow that to happen. Encourage it to happen. Inspire it. Create it. And lighten up!

What about you? Do you have a performance pet peeve? Do share it with us, BUT spare us names and other identifying details. We’ve all been there so we’re way more interested in the what than the who did it! We’re listening.


chicksinger23 said...

My pet peeve for myself and for others is: KNOW your talk spot! I was at a show the other day and rather than listening to the song-the first moments were spent wondering "what was that-what did they say-what does that mean..." ugh, it was really a mess. PS I have done the same thing-so! Never again! Rehearsal really is a beautiful thing! :-)

Wendy Lane Bailey said...

Ah yes, knowing what to say and when is a wonderful thing. I am always surprised by how many performers put great thought, care and rehearsal into their songs, but almost none whatsoever into how they are going to put it all together once they are onstage. I've seen (and committed, alas)performances that were hampered by what the performer said between songs. You are right rehearsal IS a beautiful thing. Thanks for a great comment on a subject very near and dear to my heart!!

Charles Martin said...

I would never deign to suggest that I am in a league approaching that of the esteemed singers and owners of this blog; however, I would like to share my memory of a harrowing night in Geneva, Switzerland, in the early 70s. I was a member of our college chorus and often soloed when on tour with them. On the night of which I speak, I was resplendent in tuxedo and over-confident in my ability to wow the audience that night with my solo from Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas." Over and around the libretto I wove, my 19-year-old pipes lithe and handling the notes splendidly, until--before a packed auditorium--horror of horrors, my voice cracked like a brittle reed in a dry pond and crumbled on the lofty scale, emitting decibels I knew could be heard by any dog in town. I instantly prayed I could vanish beneath the risers. Mortified, I was!

Wendy Lane Bailey said...

I feel your pain! I had a similiar experience when I was fourteen, and it still ranks as one of my most embarrasing on-stage experiences. It was hard to get back out and perform again for a little while after that. Eventually I figured out that messing up won't kill you, and if you don't have a few stories of abject humilation to tell you've lived a very dull life!

Wendy Lane