I react, therefore I am
We can hardly find a more apathetic human than today's theater spectator. Few are more deprived of reactions than the multitudes of zombies we see on the seats of performance theaters in New York. They applaud a show when they love it and they applaud one when they hate it. They forgot what they like. They are suffocated by opinions, afraid of looking insensitive, and anxious not to waste money. The men and women who go to theaters nowadays are the joy of mediocre artists. They pay for tickets plus fees and inevitably, regardless of what is put for hours in front of their eyes, applaud robotically at the end of every show. This ensures success of numerous of our laziest actors, uneducated directors, and greedy producers. Ask one of them how he or she is and you risk receiving, “To be or not to be?” as an answer.
No one pays the public to attend a play or to watch it until the end. The crowds going to theaters usually spend a severe amount of money and wait long hours to see what artists have prepared. But the artist’s work will be paid in cash and his performance is often seen with great attention. Absolutely nothing justifies an applause at the end of a show besides the intensity of emotions it has brought to the viewer. The actor of today is spoiled because he knows that whatever is put in front of his supporters receives a massive round of applauses when lights come off (often a token of gratitude from the audience for finally being allowed to leave the theater without embarrassment.) That only feeds the imaginary world of self-enchantment where most actors live; along with theater rentals and jobs for critics. Narcissus was born on the last row of a Broadway theater.
An audience aware of their feelings is crucial for the professional actor. Quality art relies on a sensitive public. The actor who climbs the stage with transparency and commitment needs viewers to acknowledge emotions brought to their hearts and who react proportionally. Otherwise the relationship between artist and audience will remain insincere and sterile. If a play is boring or needs lengthy thought processes to be captured, it's unable to raise feelings and deserves no clapping. If actors are lazy or lack discipline, that’s plenty of reason to hoot at the end of the show. We need the public to react to their true experiences. And if different people in the audience have different impressions about the quality of a play, let them fight with boos and bravos. If a show awakens no feelings, silence is the loudest reaction it deserves.
We hope this will help bringing artists alert, viewers active, and art alive.
New York City