I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of live performance. There is something about being in a setting where the audience and performer meet that is so exciting and invigorating to me. Will it be as polished as the performers have worked towards? Will something beyond anyone’s control (a bat, a police siren) get in the way? How will the performers handle the inevitable surprises (laughter, or lack of laughter, a mistimed entrance, etc.)?
A great audience is one that buys in to whatever is happening onstage – and if the performers are great, the venue is great, and the atmosphere around it (both planned and unplanned) are great, they all help to set the event up for success unlike anything else. When we get the perfect melding of audience and performer, where the performer feels supported and respected and the audience feels honored to be in attendance, and thinks of nothing else – what an incredible feeling! It’s different from a movie, and it’s different from the every day. And it does seem rarer to have everyone “in the moment” in today’s world.
I especially love performances in intimate venues. Try as we might to get that live, raw connection in a house of 5,000 people, or even 800, it’s just not the same. So that’s one of the things I love about the North Country. So many beautiful, historic venues, most available to rent for a song to whatever performers want to inhabit them for an evening –and they are typically small, often with flexible seating, so a crowd of 20 or a crowd of 200 can experience that live performance magic.
My theater company was recently up here with the Arts Alliance, and we made a point of bringing the live magic of musical theater to a few unexpected locations – we sang “Muddy Water” from Big River on the covered bridge in Littleton, and we gave a half hour performance of our favorites in the center of the Littleton Food Co-op to unsuspecting passerby! The latter had surprisingly awesome acoustics. I love “preaching the magic of musical theater” to whoever will listen – or whoever happens to be around! It can bring surprising results.
My own theater company’s concert last weekend in southern NH has me psyched up for more live performance this weekend. Karen Montanaro’s “Tanzspiel” at the Littleton Opera House was really special early this month – and it’s just incredible what one performer can do, solo! She’ll repeat the performance (although I’m sure it’s never quite the same twice) at the Medallion Opera House Friday, May 30, at 7 p.m. I hope we’ll get a good crowd out for restaurant deals, the show, and even some kids to perform with her! (More info here if you need it.) (We have a great video clip of Karen’s effect on a recent audience here.)
I hope you all have a chance for your own version of a “time out” this weekend, where you can de-stress, focus on something besides the mundane and the every day, and enjoy yourself for an hour or two. I look forward to a great educator workshop tonight for early childhood folks in Berlin with Karen, followed the next day by what I’m sure will be an unforgettable performance.
What about you? Please share what gets YOU energized about live performance?