Oh boy, do I have something to say about this…and it’s the opposite of what you might think and many may not agree with me, but my opinion actually comes from 20 years of professional experience as a theatre actress and entertainer.
Apparently the Telegraph has said that Martin Freeman’s fans are “ruining” the performances of his show, Richard III, currently running at London’s Trafalgar Studios, because they do not have ‘proper theatre etiquette‘, yet when I go on to read the article, (unless I’m missing a second half), it only accuses fans of clapping during the show and giving standing ovations…(I assume, at the end of the show.) So far I see no crime against the thespian society committed here. But, it may be a cultural thing…
British Blogger Claire Dikecoglu said: “I was irritated when the audience interrupted the flow of the play to clap and cheer Martin’s first scene. I understand that Martin Freeman is popular, but I have no bigger pet peeve, than everything getting standing ovations these days.”
Oh dear…another reporter with issues, perhaps? First of all…given the accusatory headline, I thought Dikecoglu was going to say the fans were giggling, passing love notes, and throwing their panties and room keys up to Martin during his “Now is the winter of our discontent” speech. Instead, we find them applauding a well known, and clearly loved actor, at the completion of what is arguably one of the most famous soliloquies in the history of theatre. Sorry, but that DOES happen. That’s the beauty of LIVE theatre! The response is pure, visceral, immediate and emotion-fueled. It can be electrifying! Haven’t you EVER been to a play where the lead actor (yes, oftentimes famous) walks on stage and stops the show cold with applause before they even utter a single word?
“I have no bigger pet peeve than everything getting standing ovations these days.” Wow. Well that’s a pet peeve of mine because if this person walks into a theatre with that attitude before the curtain even rises…chances are these actors will not be receiving an ovation from this audience member no matter how great they are.
I’ve even seen a show’s SET receive applause when it’s first revealed. The original Broadway production of Les Miserables comes to mind, when the set is transformed into the barricades right before our eyes…I’ll never forget it! Dikecoglu would have been breathing into a paper bag at that point…
The Standing Ovation: I’ve definitely found that this is a custom not practiced by all cultures and it might be surprising to know that British audiences do not commonly enjoy giving standing ovations. I’ve been to brilliant performances in the West End and have found myself doing the “solo-standing O” at the end of the show and everyone sort of sneering at me as if to say, “Sit down…we don’t do that here!” But, American audiences do. They can’t WAIT to show their appreciation with applause and standing ovations. What is wrong with that? I see absolutely nothing wrong with that. (But then, to be fair…we’re also the one’s tossing up our panties and room keys at super sexy performers….)
“Unaware of theatre etiquette” the article says of Freeman’s fans. I’m sorry but this pro-performer says it’s actually GOOD etiquette to get up off your lazy butt…at the end of a long, emotion-filled performance where an actor has bared their soul on stage and left it there for you to feast on…and damn well give them a much deserved standing ovation! The performers appreciate it. They might not all admit it…(‘Oh I don’t do it for the accolades…’) but after 20-years of backstage dressing room conversations…I’m here to say, they LOVE it. Often times it’s the barometer of how well their performance went. Dead silent audience often translates to, “they hated me…”
If this blogger is annoyed by fan reaction to Martin Freeman…I would advise her to steer clear of the West End when Benedict Cumberbatch comes to town with Hamlet…because, even I will predict, there will be love notes and flying panties involved…and mostly from me.
Don’t judge me.
Richard III runs at The Trafalgar Studios through September 27. For tickets and info visit: http://trafalgartransformed.com/whats-on/richard-iii
Lady Anglophile…standing, applauding with panties at the ready!