Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Walking Out

Have you ever walked out on a play? If you've spent any real time in the theatre I'm sure you have. (If you haven't, you are a saint in my book.) I know at the very least that you may have wanted to.

I believe that there is nothing wrong with walking out on a play. Let's face it; there is no play whose mass appeal is so perfect that ever audience member will absolutely love it. It may not be they type of thing that you like to go to. It may be under prepared. It may be offensive to you. Your time is precious and it is a fairly large to do to go see a play. Usually there is dinner before hand. You have to get there in time to make sure there is parking and that you've made it to your seat before curtain. It's an investment too; tickets sometimes aren't cheap. Also it's usually a two hour time commitment at the very least.

That being said, walking out is as much on the shoulders of the patron as it is the theatre company - probably more. In a market such as Chicago, there is plenty of good theatre and plenty of bad. The consumer should take into account what they are spending their time and money on. Use the newspapers, online resources, and reviews to make an informed decision.

That being said one or two will always slip through the cracks.

The hardest is wanting to walk out on a show that a friend is in. As a theatre artist, I can't tell you the number of time that your friend is in an awful show - they've probably even warned you - and you are stuck with a rather embarrassing situation. The answer here is always stay. You don't have to stick around after to tell your friend what you though of the show, but in this case you should always stay to the end.

Another rule: do not demand a refund if the company is a not-for-profit.. As disgruntled as you may be, it falls on you. Let the buyer beware is my motto. Do your research and go see something that you will enjoy if you feel that strongly about it. On the rare occasion when you land a enormous flop, be polite, and walk out discretely. Yes, you may philosophically want to cut off support from the company so they can fold and stop producing these awful productions - but that's really not what it's about. Although you may not like what they produced, the are still providing an important service. Theatre is necessary and their attempt to produce something interesting that entertains and delights is worthy of the continued pursuit.

Share with us any stories you may have about times when you did the right thing and stayed to a show you were not enthusiastic about.

Happy Birthday: Wallace Shawn (b. 1943), Anne Hathaway (b. 1982) and Megan Mullally (b. 1953)

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